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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. "All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn" Ernest Hemingway . Racism & Slavery. written after Emancipation Proclamation abolished slavery, but time period of story set during slavery

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the adventures of huckleberry finn

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

"All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn"

Ernest Hemingway

racism slavery
Racism & Slavery
  • written after Emancipation Proclamation abolished slavery, but time period of story set during slavery
  • during Reconstruction, a less institutionalized form of slavery existed in the South (Jim Crow laws)
  • allegoricalportrayal of conditions of “Blacks” in U.S. after end of slavery
hypocrisy of civilized society
Hypocrisy of “Civilized” Society
  • Society’s laws (Miss Watson and Widow Douglas) vs. higher moral values (Huck and Jim)
  • Rules and precepts that reflect faulty logic
  • Civilized vs. Natural
  • A “just” society that condones slavery
  • Unsteady justice is blinded by cowardice, prejudice, and a lack of common sense
  • Seemingly good and just characters are slave-owners
  • Hypocrisy of “civilized” society which values morality, but condones slavery
  • importance of individual thinking and ideas
  • escaping an illogical and oppressive society
  • Mississippi River as a safe haven
  • slavery vs. liberty
  • outcasts labeled by citizens (mob mentality) are arguably the only truly free characters
  • Food plays a prominent role in the novel.
  • In Huck's childhood, he often fights pigs for food, and eats out of "a barrel of odds and ends."
  • *Thus, providing Huck with food becomes a symbol of people caring for and protecting him.
    • For example, in the first chapter, the Widow Douglas feeds Huck, and later on Jim becomes his symbolic caretaker, feeding and watching over him on Jackson's Island.
mockery of religion
Mockery of Religion
  • A theme Twain focuses on quite heavily on in this novel is the mockery of religion.
  • Throughout his life, Twain was known for his attacks on organized religion.
  • Huck Finn's sarcastic character perfectly situates him to deride religion, representing Twain's personal views.
    • In the first chapter, Huck indicates that hell sounds far more fun than heaven.
  • Superstition appears throughout the novel.
  • Generally, both Huck and Jim are very rational characters, yet when they encounter anything slightly superstitious, irrationality takes over.
  • The power superstition holds over the two demonstrates that Huck and Jim are child-like despite their apparent maturity.
  • In addition, superstition foreshadows the plot at several key junctions.
    • For instance, when Huck spills salt, Pap returns, and when Huck touches a snakeskin with his bare hands, a rattlesnake bites Jim.
maturation and development
Maturation and Development
  • Bildungsroman
    • A moral coming of age story.
  • being open-minded is a quality that Huck represents, as a child, which allows for his development and maturation
  • Huck’s relationship with Jim assists his progression throughout the novel
  • Huck’s experiences and apprehension about society help lead to his maturity
  • The Mississippi River
    • a source of freedom; a safe haven
    • Life
    • confluence of all currents of American life in the first half of the nineteenth century
  • The Land
    • Real vs. Ideal (the river)
  • Raft
    • tool for escape
    • safe place
  • Money
    • separates the civilized from the “outcasts”
terms to know
Emancipation Proclamation


Jim Crow Laws



mob mentality






Terms to know: