A weblog by Will Fitzgerald

'Lining-out' in Huckleberry Finn

The first half of the manuscript of Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which was begun in 1876 and published in 1885, was discovered in 1990 ‘in an old steamer trunk stored in the attic of a Los Angeles house.’ It includes a description of a camp meeting that is more expansive than the published version. I thought the readers of this mail list would be interested in the published and manuscript versions of the beginning part of the story, in which a preacher is lining out a hymn. Twain is depicting a time ‘forty to fifty years ago’ (i.e., roughly 1835-1845):

Published version:

The first shed we come to, the preacher was lining out a hymn. He lined out two lines, everybody sung it, and it was kind of grand to hear it, there was so many of them and they done it in such a rousing way; then he lined out two more for them to sing–and so on. The people woke up more and more, and sung louder and louder; and towards the end, some begun to groan, and some begun to shout.

MS version:

The first shed we come to, the preacher was lining-out a hymn. He lined out two lines; everybody sung it–roared it out, they did, in a most rousing way:

“Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb,”–

–then the preacher lined-out the next two:

“And shall I fear to own his cause,
Or blush to speak his name?”

–And so on. The people work up more and more, and sung louder and louder; and towards the end, some begun to groan, and some begun to shout.

This is from the Random House 1996 “The Adventures of Mark Twain: The Only Comprehensive Edition.” The dating comes from editors’ notes. [Note sent to the Fasola discussion list.]


One response to “'Lining-out' in Huckleberry Finn

  1. selina pooser August 6, 2006 at 1:50 pm

    In the novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, there is an obvious racial theme that is present throughout this time. Mark Twain clearly shows the racist tension throughout the book, he clearly expresses it though the characters dialogue, through the actual character, and it largely has to do with the setting of time.
    “Some think Old Finn done it himself…But before night they changed around and judged it was done by a runaway named Jim.”
    This quote clearly shows the racist theme that the characters have in this time. They willingly changed there views on Fold Finns death, when a black man [slave] was involved. They overlooked the point of the fact that Old Finn was a drunk and could have accidentally killed himself.
    Another racist even that happened in this novel, was in chapter six. .Huck’s father Pap makes a racial comment of the mixed man visiting the town.
    “When I says to the people, why ain’t this nigger put up to auction and sold?-that’s what I wanted to know and what been in the state six months, and he hadn’t been there long yet.”
    This outrageously strong racist comment was ignorant and it was only stated because of the society and how the white people were raised to treat the coloreds.
    It seems to me that the only person throughout the whole novel, that truly is different from the regular racist society is Huck. This is because of the growing bond between him and Jim. Huck begins to realize that Jim is a person to, and not just a slave.
    “…I do believe he cared just as much for his people as white folks does their’n.”
    Thus explaining that both the whites and the coloreds care for people the same. Inferring that they are not different from the whites.

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