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Source: 'The 10 best… closing lines of books', The Guadian broadsheet, by Robert McCrum

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

"But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me and I can't stand it. I been there before."

This is a heartbreaker. Twain rounds off his masterpiece by saying that Huck Finn is fated, like all Americans, to an incessant quest for the challenge of the frontier. For sheer teenage disaffection, it's matched by the last line of Catcher in the Rye: "Don't tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody." And also from the US, let's not forget Margaret Mitchell's ending to Gone With the Wind: "After all, tomorrow is another day." Pure hokum, like the novel.

What exactly is the author implying? I consulted hokum, but although I haven't read all these novels (I contend against time), I know that these are literary classics, which cannot be esteemed 'hokum'?

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  • Just because something is a classic doesn't mean that it won't have its critics (for example, Wuthering Heights is considered a "classic", but I think it's one of the worst books I've ever read :-)
    – Chad
    Jul 29, 2015 at 17:54

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This is a better definition of hokum:

1) trite or mawkish sentiment, crude humor, etc. used to get a quick emotional response from an audience

In your example, trite best described what the author is saying:

worn out by constant use; no longer having freshness, originality, or novelty; stale ⇒ "a trite idea, remark, etc."

Basically saying the phrase "After all, tomorrow is another day." was worn out by constant use, and was used to get a quick emotional response from an audience.

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  • Oh, and yes, the reviewer did seem to be judging Gone With the Wind (the novel) to be hokum. But that's a reviewer's prerogative. Or maybe he's only talking about the last line of the novel (was it the same as in the movie? I don't know.) Jan 11, 2015 at 8:27
  • @BrianHitchcock Thanks, but I remain confused. How does it make sense for the reviewer to decry the ending of Gone with the Wind, if it resembles that of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which he already praised as one of the best closing lines? Does his deprecation of the ending of Gone with the Wind contradict his praise of the ending of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?
    – user8712
    Jan 15, 2015 at 21:31
  • The code for my comment : Thanks, but I remain confused. How does it make sense for the reviewer to decry the ending of *Gone with the Wind*, if it resembles that of *The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn*, which he already praised as one of the best closing lines? Does his deprecation of the ending of *Gone with the Wind* contradict his praise of the ending of *The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn*?
    – user8712
    Jan 15, 2015 at 21:32
  • Resembles? How?
    – user3169
    Jan 15, 2015 at 21:41
  • Law Area 5- Proposal: I think he was claiming the last line of Gone With the Wind was a great ending line—even though it was "pure hokum", in his view , because, in context, the hokey last line fit perfectly with the whole hokey movie (and novel.) Jan 16, 2015 at 7:08

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