When I was a kid, there was a TV animated series adaptation of "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn". I can't remember most of the scenes now, but what I remember most is the sight of Huck and Jim's raft floating in a leisurely manner along the Mississipi River. That scene alone was enough for any kid - and even an adult - to imagine what it would have been like to be on such a spot.
There are few great works of literature where geography played an almost central theme to the story; Robinson Crusoe's island and Middle Earth in the Lord of the Rings series are two. And then there is the Mississipi River of Mark Twain.
"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" is a book for children, but it also has a vibrant thread of maturity in it. As a children's book, the funny adventures and the voyage along the Mississipi provide the amusement. As a social commentary, the novel is a stinging take on contemporary American frontier life in the 19th century.
The Mississipi serves as the platform on which Huck and the slave Jim sought to escape. And the odyssey.
And some things never change. We read of Huck Finn's good-for-nothing father, a drunkard whose only purpose in life was to pester Huck and Judge Thatcher for a "share" of Huck's wealth stored in the bank to buy a bottle of moonshine, taunts Huck for studying, and just exhibits his worthlessness in his responsibility to raise Huck to be a good son. You would wish the piece of dung would drink himself to death and leave Huck in peace and Huck would be better off. But then, the adventures would not have happened. Well, there are still dads and even moms there who are like Huck's sorry excuse for a father.
The absurdity of the con men the "Duke" and the "Dauphin" conveys the deceit that lurks in this world, a deceit whose only match is the gullibility of people who literally buy that foolishness. The Dauphin's ridiculous "The King's Cameleopard" or the "Royal Nonesuch" reminds me of Miley Cyrus's "twerking" and her "wrecking ball", and all those who lapped them up. Some things never change; some even get worse.
Reading "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" offers amusement and also reflection; now there's a book that is both fun and serious.