In my personal opinion, there is no hero more important in American literature than Huckleberry Finn. He has the archetypal American hero characteristics, but he also has an innocence and vulnerability that is fairly absent from the heroes of James Fenimore Cooper and Harper Lee. For example, Huck is a loner, something which defines a lot of archetypal American heroes, but he is also shown to be a very lonely boy, which we see in the first chapter when he says, “I set down in a chair by the window and tried to think of something cheerful, but it warn’t no use. I felt so lonesome I most wished I was dead.” Although Huck can survive on his own, you can see throughout the book that his status as an outsider is something that upsets him, revealing an active emotional presence within a character who is “supposed” to remain stoic if he were to be a “true” archetypal American hero. To me, this aspect of Huck’s heroism is something that makes him delightfully relatable. I don’t like reading books where the protagonist is perfect or untouchable because of their moral perfection or courage in the face of fear. Characters like Huck are perfect because of their imperfections and for me, it’s why The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is infinitely more enjoyable than so much American literature that came before it.
I know everything I said here is basic literary observation and super obvious to literally anyone, but I wanted to take a minute to celebrate one of my personal heroes. I hope I’m worthy of being called full of sand one day.