“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”


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Have you ever read a book written by Samuel Clemens? If you said no, think again. Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, is one of the most popular and influential writers of our era. Twain is well known for his novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The novel was first introduced to the public in 1885, but it took only a month before communities started banning the novel often considered racist due to the language used.

“Librarians in Concord, Massachusetts, deemed it ‘trash’ and ‘suitable only for the slums,’ “ said Jocelyn Chadwick in a PBS Broadcast entitled “BANNED: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

People often do not understand the satire or irony used in this book. Satire is humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices. Throughout The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Mark, Twain shows satire in many different settings including praying with slaves, racism and hypocrisy, and morals.

Mark Twain’s satire is shown in various locations with a major example shown in Chapter 36. Jim had been taken as a slave on Uncle Silas’ farm and he is chained up inside of a cabin from which he could easily escape. Uncle Silas is awaiting money for Jim that he is promised but is never going to get. Tom and Huck are planning a way to help Jim escape even though he can easily can do so by himself. Uncle Silas would often come into the cabin to pray with Jim even though Uncle Silas knew he was a slave. “..Jim told him Uncle Silas come in every day or two to pray with him” (Twain 221). Twain is ridiculing society’s view of black people. Many people who read the book do not understand the satire he uses towards slavery.During this time period in the book, whites did not treat black people as human beings. Slaves were typically only considered property. The irony shows through when Uncle Silas decides to treat Jim as a human being and prays with him on multiple occasions.

Another way Twain shows satire is almost immediately after Huck arrives at the Phelps’ home. Huck stumbled across the Phelps’ farm and his luck is almost too good to be true. The Phelps are waiting on their nephew, Tom Sawyer, to arrive. They believe that Huck is Tom. Huck has to think quickly when they ask him why he is late and tells Aunt Sally that his steamboat had a malfunction.

“We blowed out a cylinder-head.”

“Good gracious! Anybody hurt?”

“No’m. Killed a nigger.”

“Well, it’s lucky; because sometimes people do get hurt” (Twain 197).
Aunt Sally, a Christian, said that no one got hurt just because a black slave was killed. Since the societal views do not count black people as humans, nobody cares that a human life was ended. Twain could have been trying to show two different types of satire with this quote. Once again society’s horrible view of black people is being ridiculed. Aunt Sally’s holy ways are being satirized as well. She is supposedly a Christian woman who fails to follow the commandment of love when it comes to someone with a different color of skin.  

 My third and favorite use of satire happens right off the bat. Huck and his newly formed gang are planning when to do their stealing and how to pull it off and Tom was announced as captain of the gang. Ben Rogers states that he can only get out of the house on Sundays and that is the only day he can steal. “..so he wanted to begin next Sunday; but all the boys said it would be wicked to do it on Sunday, and that settled the thing” (Twain 8). After Ben says he wants to steal on a Sunday, Tom and Huck agreed that Sunday is God’s day. They think it would be too wicked to steal from people on a Sunday, but it is perfectly okay to steal from people on any other day of the week. In this section of the book, Twain satirizes the morals of Huck and Tom. They believe in God and that Sunday should be reserved for him, but they do not think of God when they are planning to steal on any other day.

The Adventures and Huckleberry Finn, my first encounter with Mark Twain, introduced me to satire. Twain does an outstanding job putting satire throughout the entire book. He ridicules many social beliefs and morals that go right over people’s heads. Since people do not understand the satire fully and as a result they try to consider this book racist. The wide variety of satire used in the book sets the book apart from all of the others and satire makes the book funny and interesting to read.

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