Huck and Tom Among the Indians

Mark Twain most likely wrote Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer among the Indians during the summer of 1884. It featured the same targets as Twain's works such as the The Noble Red Man and Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses highlighted: James Fenimore Cooper's alleged idealization of American Indians.

Huck and Tom Among the Indians takes place on the Oregon Trail from western Missouri, along the Platte river, ending in Sioux territory near Fort Laramie. This is the same route that Twain himself took in 1861 on the way to Nevada, and from which he developed the travel book Roughing It (Blair 84). Walter Blair, the editor of Mark Twain's Hannibal, Huck & Tom observed that several of the events in the short story correspond with those that occurred in Clemens' personal life. He states: "Hugh's shocked reaction to the demonstrative love of the Mills family recalls the author's comparison of his family's refusal to show affection with his wife's Olivia's greater warmth. Huck's infatuation with the much older Peggy Mills recalls the boy Sam Clemens's unrequited love for two girls several years older than he was. Indians massacres like the one in which several members of the Mills family died were part of Jane Clemens's family tradition" (84).

While definitely not his best work, and in some respects an utter failure, Huck and Tom Among the Indians reveals intriguing things about Twain's view of American Indians. The devious nature of the Indians who double-cross and then massacre the loving Mills family, and Peggy's implied brutal rape, eliminate any possibility of a positive racial relationship between whites and American Indians. The story's plot dwindles until it reaches stagnancy; perhaps this is the reason that Twain could not finish the text.

Read Twain's unfinished short story, Huck and Tom Among the Indians

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