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Satire And Morals As The Element of Mark Twain's Writing Style In The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn

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In the novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain uses many different elements to get his point across. For example, he uses satire through the character’s dialect to illustrate his opinion. The characters morals also play an important role to help the reader understand Twain’s motive. Through the characters Huck and Jim, Mark Twain presents a contrast to the ridicule of slavery and people’s views of society at the time. He accomplishes this through dialect, intelligence, and morals of the characters.

During this time period, slavery was an accepted normal. In the connections part of the novel where Mark Twain’s life story is, the writer refers to the time in which the book was written as, ”grim realities of a slaveholding society. (Twain 345)” Around 1835, society had received substantial moral support to begin to “free states”, however, the south wasn’t ready to cooperate. In the story, Jim runs away from Mrs. Watson, in hopes of finding a free state in order to gain money and buy back his family, who were still in slavery. “He was thinking about his wife and his children, away up yonder, and he was low and homesick; because he had never been away from home before in his life; and I do believe he cared just as much for his people as white folks does for their’n. (Twain 157)” This illustrates how people viewed slaves as less than human and how slavery played an important and crucial role in everyone’s life at the time in different ways.

The institution of slavery is one of the biggest themes in the novel. Mark Twain made his feelings of disgust towards slavery very prominent. For example, “He was often moaning and mourning that way, nights, when he judged I was asleep, and saying, Po’ little ‘Lizabeth! po’ little Johnny! it’s mighty hard; I spec’ I ain’t ever gwayne to see you no mo’, no mo’!” He was a mighty good nigger, Jim was. (Twain 157)” The heartbreak that slaves experienced caused by being ripped away from their family was saddening. This is illustrated when Jim is thinking about his family miles away and homesick, “…he was sitting there with his head down betwixt his knees moaning and mourning to himself. (Twain 157)” Twain made it clear that he felt there was a problem between what society was doing and what they should be doing with slavery. One of the biggest issues in the book is the excessive use of the word ‘nigger,’ inferring that Africans are ignorant and unintelligent. However, Twain meant to portray life as it really was during this time, not to show that slavery or racism should be acceptable aspects of society. He took the opportunity to write the novel to illustrate his opinion and the hypocrisy of the institution of slavery.

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Throughout the novel the characters display and exhibit many satirical behaviors. In the beginning of the novel Jim tells Huck he is rich because his slave owner, (Mrs. Watson) could sell him for eight hundred dollars, “Yes—en I’m rich now, come look at it. I owns myself, en I’s wuth eight hund’d dollars. I wisht I had de money, I wouldn’ want no mo’. (Twain 47)” Jim believes that since he owns himself now, he is rich. He thinks this due to the fact that Mrs. Watson said that she could sell him for eight hundred dollars. This is satirical because Jim doesn’t have eight hundred dollars and can’t sell himself for that money. Huck realizes this and responds by saying, “Well, it’s all right, anyway, Jim, long as you’re going to be rich again some time or other. (Twain 47)” This situation is full of irony between characters.

Twain also used characters to mock the practice of slavery. Twain satirizes characters to make his point. Pap should be Huck’s supporter, but that is not a role he can play because he is a drunk. This is illustrated here, “I borrowed three dollars from Judge Thatcher, and Pap took it and got drunk and went a-blowing around and cussing and whooping and carrying on; and he kept it up all over town, and next day they had him before court; and jailed him for a week. But he said he was satisfied; and he was boss of his son, and he’d make it warm for him.(Twain 21)” Jim, plays the role of a protector to Huck. He provides guidance for Huck, helping him develop his morals. Due to the social norms of the day, even though Pap is a horrible character, it is Jim who is accused of Huck’s murder. Pap’s personality is shown here, “every time he got money he got drunk; every time he got drunk he raised Cain around town; and every time he raised Cain he got jailed. (Twain 23)” Twain exposes people’s beliefs at the time. He supports the idea that slaves are less than human. Jim shows us that this is not the case.

Mark Twain satirizes the hypocrisy of the civilized adults in the story that Huck interacts with. For instance, Miss Watson tries to teach honesty to Huck, but her promise to Jim to not sell him South is broken. This situation is shown here when Jim explains why he ran away to Huck, “Well you see, it ‘uz dis way. Ole Missus- dat’s miss Watson- she pecks on me all de time, en treats me pooty rough, but she awiuz said she wouldn’ sell me down to Oreleens. But I noticed day wuz a nigger trader roun’ de place considerable, lately, en I begin to git oneasy. (Twain 43)” Reverend Phelps purchases Jim in the hope of receiving a reward. Others in the books society are hypocritical. Another example is when the king and duke decide to turn in Jim for a reward which is shown here, “After all this long journey, and after all we’d done for them scoundrels, here was it all come to nothing, everything all busted up and ruined, because they could have the heart to serve Jim such a trick as that, and make him a slave again all his life, and among strangers, too, for forty dirty dollars. (Twain 213)” When two slave-hunters approach Huck and Jim. Huck keeps them away by telling them that he and his family have smallpox. Rather than being kind and offering help, the men try to send the pair elsewhere.

In the novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain uses different elements to get his opinions across. For example, he uses satire through the character’s dialects to make his point. The characters morals also play an important role to help the readers understand Twain’s opinions. Twain’s writing style is used to influence the readers opinions. The direct textual evidence that I’ve found shows how Twain’s opinions influence the story and it’s characters.

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Satire And Morals As The Element of Mark Twain’s Writing Style In The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn. (2022, Jun 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 4, 2022, from
“Satire And Morals As The Element of Mark Twain’s Writing Style In The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn.” Edubirdie, 29 Jun. 2022,
Satire And Morals As The Element of Mark Twain’s Writing Style In The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 4 Dec. 2022].
Satire And Morals As The Element of Mark Twain’s Writing Style In The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 29 [cited 2022 Dec 4]. Available from:
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