Huckleberry Finn And The Jungle

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade October 2001

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There are two novels that can be compared and contrasted to one another in such a way that they contain similarities and differences in their content. They may be compared and contrasted to each other by examining the lives, behaviors, and fates of the characters or through the plot, ideas, and setting of the novel. These two novels that contain several similarities as well as differences in the characters are The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (AHF) by Mark Twain (MT) and The Jungle (TJ) by Upton Sinclair (US). Although each novel takes place in different parts of the Continental United States and during different times, both novels possess similar, and also, different characteristics between the characters. Characters such as Buck Grangerford (AHF) can be compared and contrasted to little Antanas Rudkus (TJ), so as Mary Jane Wilks (AHF) to Marija Berczynskas (TJ). There also contains a link and possibly a variance in the ideas of a cycle being completed between the protagonists Huckleberry Finn (AHF) and Jurgis Rudkus (TJ).

The first two characters that are going to be described with similar characteristics are the minor characters named Buck Grangerford and little Antanas Rudkus. Buck was the youngest son of the Grangerford family who became a very close friend to Huck upon meeting. Little Antanas was Jurgis' and Ona's only offspring. One obvious similarity between these two characters was that they both were boys and were young. This, though, is very vague and not good enough of a concrete similarity. One concrete similarity is that both of these characters shared a fate, which were very similar to each other within the novels. This fate was that they both had died within each of the novels. Buck was killed within the feud between the Grangerfords and the Shepherdson's while little Antanas was killed when he drowned in the flooded street outside the widow's home. In The Jungle, Marija states, "It's Antanas. He's dead. He was drowned out in the street"(Sinclair 209). As these minor characters had died, their death causes an inner loss to each of the protagonists in the novels. Huck leaves with a sense of sorrow and also Jurgis, as he leaves the town quietly and just boards onto the train. In AHF, Huck says: The boys jumped for the river-both of them hurt- and as they swum down the current the men run along the bank shooting at them and singing out, "Kill them, kill them!" It made me so sick I most fell out of the tree. I ain't a-going to tell all that happened-it would make me sick again if I was to do that. I wished I hadn't ever come ashore that night to see such things. I ain't ever going to get shut of them-lots of times I dream about them "¦ I was mighty downhearted; so I made up my mind I wouldn't ever go anear that house again.(Twain146) He says this while sitting up on a tree and watching the actual fighting go on, and because of this, he leaves and never wants to return to the Grangerford's home. .

As these two characters may uphold similarities, they also have differences, which contrast them from each other. Their living conditions of their homes were very different. Apart from the fact that the setting of the two novels took place within different time periods, each of their homes were different in terms of their lifestyle in contrast to their society at their time. Little Antanas lived in very poor conditions and in a very filthy place that was smoky and in the stockyards. On the other hand, Buck lived in a very gorgeous house as Huck stated: Well, as I was saying about the parlor, there was beautiful curtains on the windows; white, with pictures painted on them of castles with vines all down the walls "¦ There was a little old piano, too, that had tin pans in it, I reckon, and nothing was ever so lovely as to hear the young lady sing "¦ The walls of all the rooms was plastered, and most had carpets n the floors, and the whole house was whitewashed on the outside.(Twain 132) Buck's home was very luxurious in contrast to other homes and lifestyles during that time. Another different aspect between them was their character. Buck lived with an urge to kill the enemy and go after the Shepherdsons while little Antanas lived according to the joys of life. He was a fun and playful boy and as Jurgis describes, ""¦ these papers [newspapers] had pages full of comical pictures, and these were the main joy in life to little Antanas"(Sinclair 207).

As there were similarities and differences between Buck and little Antanas, there were also ones between Mary Jane Wilks and Marija Berczynskas. Mary Jane is the eldest daughter of the deceased George Wilks, and Marija is Ona's cousin. Both of these women are considered to be very strong and have pride in themselves and in their family. With this pride, they wanted to protect their family and care for them with what they are able to do. Mary Jane wanted to protect her family by taking out the false heirs (the Duke and Dauphin), and Marija wanted to protect and support the family, even until the end of the novel. When Jurgis visits Marija in the Brothel, she states, "I had to live, and I couldn't see the children starve"(Sinclair 286). This shows how much she cares for the family. Both of these women's lives are also being taken away from them by an opposing element. For Marija, the whole society during the Industrial Revolution is causing her life to be taken away from her and her family. How she is cheated, used, and is left to become a prostitute. The Duke and Dauphin are cheating Mary Jane when they are taking the families and her house, money, and everything in it away. As stated by Huck, ""¦ and the king told him [the Dauphin] everything, just like the young fellow [Reverend Elexander Blodgett] had said it-every last word of it"(Twain 206). The Duke was explaining whole situation to the Dauphin and how they were planning to trick Mary Jane. Both of these characters fates are also unknown towards the end because the novel discontinues what happens to them. The readers do not know what happens to Mary Jane after the whole incident and what happens after Jurgis talks to Marija at the end.

These characters also have certain differences between them, which sets them apart from each other. One obvious difference is that Mary Jane is a minor character expressed in only one of the little traveling episodes of the picaresque novel AHF while Marija is mentioned all over TJ and is considered a major character. The force Mary Jane is being cheated by is solved, while, for Marija, it is not and she continues to battle Packingtown and the lifestyle there. What one should note is that Mary Jane is living in good conditions while Marija is living in a harsh life of painting cans and later on leading into prostitution. While taking a walk with Ona, Jurgis describes Packingtown: "¦ Bare places were grown up with dingy, yellow weeds, hiding innumerable tomato cans "¦ there were mountains and valleys and rivers, gullies and ditches, and great hollows full of stinking green water "¦ The line of buildings stood clear-cut and black against the sky; here ant there out of the mass rose the great chimneys, with the river of smoke streaming away to the end of the world.(Sinclair 33-34) There are not only similarities and differences in characters within a novel, but there are also ones between the ideas and plots. In both of these novels, the protagonists seem to complete a cycle within the plot. In AHF Huck goes through a cycle of settled life then through adventure, then back to settle life. In TJ Jurgis goes through the cycle of being open-minded and liking his life leading to the actions of acting as a beast, then back to being open-minded yet about the socialist movement. Both tend to be different in such a way that they end differently. As Jurgis' life is turned around by the end of the cycle (since he is being a part of the socialist movement), Huck's life is returned back to how it was in the beginning of the novel. Huck goes back to the calm and boring life as he states, ""¦ Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can't stand it. I been there before"(Twain 372) The lives, behaviors, and fates of these characters truly are affected by society and by each other, giving them several similarities and differences within the novel. As this novel progresses, so do the characters and their lives. Characters possess similarities and differences such as Buck Grangerford and little Antanas Rudkus, Mary Jane Wilks and Marija Berczynskas, and the cycles of Huck Finn and Jurgis Rudkus. These ideas show that there are similarities and differences in both of the novels and many others published today, as long as the reader examines and thinks closely.

Works Cited Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. New York: Bantam Books, 1981 Sinclair, Upton. The Jungle. New York: Signet Classic, 1906

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