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Huck Finn - unusual? Options · View
DLizze
Posted: Saturday, December 01, 2012 9:14:39 PM

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Joined: 4/23/2011
Posts: 2,552
I was eating some leftover jambalaya this evening. It was much better than last night, when I made it. So I was reminded of Huck Finn saying he preferred things all cooked in one pot, where "... the flavors get to swap around a little."

Then I got to thinking about Huckleberry. As we all know, Huck Finn's Pap was the town drunk. I don't recall that we ever hear anything of his mother, either who she was or what became of her.

So my query is this: Was Huck Finn unusual in that he lived with his Pap, instead of his mother?

Is there anyone out there in Lush land with a real solid social history background, who can answer this one?

"There's only three tempos: slow, medium and fast. When you get between in the cracks, ain't nuthin' happenin'." Ben Webster
bustyreadhead
Posted: Saturday, December 01, 2012 10:25:45 PM

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my understanding is that prior to ww2, in the case of divorce or (more likely then) estrangement, children more often stayed with the father because it was difficult for a woman to support a family. i do not believe the "kids go with mom" meme became dominant until the mid 20th century.
Guest
Posted: Sunday, December 02, 2012 12:57:22 PM

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Joined: 12/1/2006
Posts: 537,425
DLizze wrote:
I was eating some leftover jambalaya this evening. It was much better than last night, when I made it. So I was reminded of Huck Finn saying he preferred things all cooked in one pot, where "... the flavors get to swap around a little."

Then I got to thinking about Huckleberry. As we all know, Huck Finn's Pap was the town drunk. I don't recall that we ever hear anything of his mother, either who she was or what became of her.

So my query is this: Was Huck Finn unusual in that he lived with his Pap, instead of his mother?

Is there anyone out there in Lush land with a real solid social history background, who can answer this one?


Given the era, social standing and medical conditions, it is more than likely that Huck's mamma died young, very likely in child birth.

Read other writers of 19th century literature. Women often died young, leaving young children behind, if the chidren did not die either in child birth or as toddlers. Literary texts then, as now, were based on circumstances that can be verified and validated. Not mentioning the mother or what became of her would not, in many cases, be surprising for a 19th century text, given the high mortality rate for women giving birth, particularly in a work of fiction where she is of not literary interest of impact as far as the writer is concerned in terms of his story.

That's my take on it, at least.
Green_Man
Posted: Monday, December 03, 2012 10:45:01 AM

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Frankly, the easiest explanation was that she died in childbirth. It was an extremely common phenomenon. Men would marry over and over, having children and burying many of them and lots of wives. Medicine and hygiene was in its infancy. Death by childbirth was so common that Twain probably felt now need to mention it. In fact, Tom Sawyer lived with his Aunt. Where was his mother? Probably dead in childbirth.

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DLizze
Posted: Monday, December 03, 2012 2:22:37 PM

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Joined: 4/23/2011
Posts: 2,552
I was not ruminating about the fate of Huck's mother; I assumed she was out of the picture, either through death, or because, Huck's father being the town drunk, he was born out of wedlock.

What I was really wondering was the liklihood in that era of children being raised by a single father, rather than being shipped off (as Tom was) to relatives, to be raised. I found that question particularly interesting in this case, given Pap's inability to properly feed. c;lothe, and educate the child.

"There's only three tempos: slow, medium and fast. When you get between in the cracks, ain't nuthin' happenin'." Ben Webster
magnificent1rascal
Posted: Monday, December 03, 2012 7:42:07 PM

Rank: Divine Rapscallion

Joined: 8/15/2010
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It wouldn't have been unheard of for Huck's father to retain custody if that's what he wanted, which clearly it was. Usually children were sent to live with relatives when the mother died, but since they were regarded as little more than property, if the father demanded Huck stay with him, so it had to be.

Back to what happened to Huck's mother...in Tom Sawyer, didn't Huck tell Tom about his parents' constant fighting and how it only stopped when his mother died, or am I remembering it wrong?

Maggie Rascal
DLizze
Posted: Monday, December 03, 2012 9:50:41 PM

Rank: Story Verifier

Joined: 4/23/2011
Posts: 2,552
Gee, Maggie. I just suddenly realized I can't remember if that is in there or not. Maybe it's time for me to re-read Tom Sawyer for the umpteenth time. :)

"There's only three tempos: slow, medium and fast. When you get between in the cracks, ain't nuthin' happenin'." Ben Webster
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