It’s that time of week again. It’s time for me to add to the best sentences. I have so many this week, it’s hard to choose just five. I chose fifteen for my lecture on this set of chapters, that is ten through twenty. I have whittled those fifteen down to five for this blog post. Part of what determines my choices this week has to do with the effect each sentence had on me.
Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Penguin Classics, 1985.
The first sentence I chose is from chapter ten. “Never you mind, honey, never you mind” (62). Here Jim is speaking to Huck, and I believe it is the first time Jim calls Huck “honey.” I just love that. That little endearment seems so sincere coming from Jim. Some people, when they call someone else “honey” or “sweetie” or “darling,” it seems utterly fake, but not Jim. He’s the genuine article.
My choice from chapter fourteen is also from Jim. “En mine you, de real pint is down furder—it’s down deeper. It lays in de way Sollermun was raised”(90). This is from the debate between Huck and Jim as to whether King Solomon is wise. Huck comes across as too ready to accept the common line about Solomon’s wisdom. Jim makes a solid argument against cutting babies in half.
This third best sentence if from chapter fifteen. “No, you feel like you are laying dead still on the water; and if a little glimpse of a snag slips by, you don’t think to yourself how fast you’re going, but you catch your breath and think, my! How that snag’s tearing along”(95). Here we see Twain giving shape to Huck’s observation of perception of speed as a relative thing. It will take some years for physicists to make something of this truth, that speed is a relative thing. This observation gives you sense of both Twain’s and Huck’s native intelligence.
From chapter fifteen we also have Jim teaching Huck how perfectly awful being a prankster can be. “Dat truck dah is trash; en trash is what people is dat puts dirt on de head er dey fren’s en makes ‘em ashamed”(98). Those who read this book will see this truth worked out in torturous detail in the final chapters. Jim treads a line calling Huck trash, but his hate is aimed at the behavior, not at poor little Huck who could easily be seen as trash.
From chapter eighteen comes a wonderful description. “Sometimes he smiled, and it was good to see; but when he straightened himself up like a liberty-pole, and the lightning begun to flicker out from under his eyebrows you wanted to climb a tree first, and find out what the matter was afterwards”(117). This description reminds me of my father. Enough said.
This last of this set comes from chapter twenty. “‘Looky here, Bilgewater,’ he says, ‘I’m nation sorry for you, but you ain’t the only person that’s had troubles like that'”(135). The “late dauphin” calls the “duke” Bilgewater. It takes one…