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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

LITERARY TREND AND AUTHOR CANON

Realism in Twain’s novels

  • The local vernacular is conveyed in the characters’ speech;
  • Stark contrasts between characters and narrators in speech, depending on the level of education;
  • Describes humorous situations with an eye for social detail;
  • Portrays the abuses of power;
  • There is political commentary;
  • The best-known novels are set around the Mississippi River and depict the society living there. This is based on the author’s experience as a riverboat captain;
  • Vivid descriptions of setting and character.

THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN (published 1885)

LITERARY GENRE

  • Genre: picaresque novel

SETTING

  • American South, before the Civil War;
  • The setting changes constantly, as the characters travel south along the Mississippi River.

THEMES

Main theme: Adventure. Through its title, the book points back to its prequel, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”. However, the events presented in this follow-up are nothing like the boyish exploits of Tom and Huck, but real-life situations. Adventure in this form means that Huck must face social dangerous situations that scare him (murder, imprisonment). Despite this, the character retains his lust for adventure, even though he grows to understand that some of his ideas were childish and unrealistic.

Secondary themes:

  • Racism and slavery;
  • Education;
  • The hypocrisy of society;
  • Guilt;
  • Empathy;
  • Money.

CONFLICT

Huck Finn continues his story from the previous book, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”. Upon finding out that his abusive father has returned to town and after being kidnapped by him, Huck fakes his own murder and escapes down the Mississippi River. He meets a runaway slave, Jim, who becomes his companion. They encounter several characters during their voyage, criminals who deceive them or put their lives in danger. In the end, Jim is set free, and Huck thinks of his next adventure.

CHARACTERS

Characters presented in the analysis of the literary fragment should be adapted to the fragment itself.

  • Huckleberry Finn/“Huck”– protagonist and narrator of the novel. He is 13 years old, the son of a local drunk in St. Petersburg, Missouri. As he has an abusive father, Huck is forced to rely on himself to survive. He is thoughtful, intelligent, uneducated, and usually draws his conclusions about things, even though they can sometimes be against social norms.
  • Jim – One of Miss Watson’s slaves. He is superstitious and sentimental, intelligent, practical, and the adult in the novel. He is capable of selfless acts, attached to his family, and a loyal friend to both Huck and Tom. As he is a runaway slave, he is often forced into degrading and ridiculous situations.
  • Pap Finn – Huck’s father, the town drunk. He has a disgusting look, is illiterate, and abuses his son. He disapproves of Huck’s education and often beats him. He represents the failure of family structures and the falsehood of white society.

POINT OF VIEW

  • First-person, subjective, point of view.
  • The reader experiences the story through Huck’s eyes and identifies with the narrator. Readers also experience Huck’s thoughts and feelings.

TONE

Moralistic, introspective;

Humorous;

The novel functions on two levels:

  • The casual and youthful style of Huck’s narration;
  • The dark and moralistic tone of the novel.

The two tones are opposite, and, as the story progresses, the reader understands that the narrator is slowly acknowledging the world for what it truly is and losing his youthful optimism.

STYLE

Informal, colloquial – written in the vernacular language of the characters, which results in a casual and intimate story;

Huck’s style is friendly, naïve, and uneducated, using slang and incorrect grammar;

The descriptions of landscape, made from the narrator’s perspective, are poetic and sophisticated and expand the reader’s understanding of the fictional universe.

The narrator often reminds the reader that he is telling a story;

Techniques:

  • Irony

Example: when Mrs. Judith Loftus, after hearing Huck spin a whole roomful of lies, looks him “straight in the face, and very pleasant, and says, ‘Come, now, what’s your real name’?”