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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Argumentative

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One of the most striking elements of this passage, and indeed throughout The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, is the conversational nature of the narrative. The opening words of this extract, “Miss Watson she kept pecking at me”, seem to establish a link between the reader and Huck. This is a very significant factor in the novel’s uniqueness. Another theme that is apparent from this extract is nature, or rather Huck’s observations and reactions to the natural world around him.

In addition, as opposed to the natural world, the supernatural and superstitious world is a theme that becomes apparent from this extract, and also turns out to be a major theme in the novel. Mark Twain’s use of Huck as the narrator as well as the protagonist is very significant. One aspect that makes this particularly effective is that the dialect used by Huck is continuous throughout the novel, which not only develops authenticity, but also allows for further insight and background to be relayed to the reader through Huck and not a character-less narrator.

For example, chapter 18 opens with Huck informing the reader about Colonel Grangerford and his family, and this I feel certainly benefits from Huck’s own choice of words. The description given appears so much more genuine, as we are told not only of physical appearances, but also of Huck’s personal opinions of the characters: Col. Grangerford was a gentleman, you see. He was a gentleman all over; and so was his family. He was well born, as the saying is, and that’s worth as much in a man as it is in a horse…

Through Huck’s acceptance of characters in this way, the reader can safely assume that these characters can be trusted. The opposite effect can be seen near the end of chapter 19, where it is clear that Huck does not trust the duke and the dauphin, sating that “it didn’t take me long to make up my mind that these liars warn’t no kings nor dukes at all, but just low-down humbugs and frauds. ” It seems quite possible that the company Huck is with affects his language.

When with Colonel Grangerford, Huck uses much more of what he would consider to be eloquent language (although with many inaccuracies largely due to his childish ignorance), such as “of the first aristocracy” and “frivolishness”, than faced with the duke and the dauphin, where is language appears to be more natural, maybe because he isn’t in awe of these people. Nature is of great significance in Twain’s novel. From the extract, we see Huck observing many parts of the natural world surrounding him:

The stars was shining, and the leaves rustled in the woods ever so mournful; and I heard an owl, away off, who-whooing about somebody that was dead, and a whippowill and a dog crying about someone that was going to die… Huck continues to make further observations, mentioning the wind and woods, for example. The language he employs when describing nature is quite distinctive, particularly in relation to sounds, with frequent use of onomatopoeia. Huck speaks of owls “who-whooing” and a “me-yow! me-yow! “.

This again relates to the idea of Huck speaking directly to the reader as if in a conversation. Huck’s interaction with nature is also quite important. In the extract he replies to the “me-yow! me-yow! ” by mimicking what he has just heard. This could very well indicate his willingness to live as one with nature, as opposed to ‘civilisation’. It perhaps suggests that he relates more with the natural world than with his current situation. Elsewhere in the novel, more natural features are raised. The Mississippi River, for one, is a major point of focus.

Before the arrival of the duke and the dauphin, the river is very much a representation of freedom for Huck and Jim, as when they are on the river, they are both free from their individual oppressors (civilisation and slavery respectively). We can tell that Huck feels unbound through the lack of objection to other people, such as Miss Watson “pecking” at him in the extract, and he seems much less hostile towards the world: And afterwards we would watch the lonesomeness of the river, and kind of lazy along, and by and by lazy off to sleep.

Wake up by and by, and look to see what done it, and maybe see a steamboat coughing along up-stream … nothing to hear nor nothing to see – just solid lonesomeness. The importance of nature is highlighted here with the personification of the steamboat, which is a sign of the civilisation which Huck is trying to escape. By depicting the steamboat as “coughing along”, it almost seems as if it is intruding on the tranquillity of Huck and Jim’s bliss on the river. It is important to add, however, that Huck’s new found freedom is not always a peaceful one, but nevertheless, Huck feels more content with deciding his own fate.

This is perhaps the reasoning behind his willingness to live in natural surroundings, as it is without the distractions and influences of civilised society. It is likely that Twain wanted to portray the natural world in such a way in order to play down the significance of the developing world. With such natural influences in this novel, it is perhaps a little surprising that the supernatural also plays a noteworthy role in proceedings. Superstition is probably the most apparent example of this.

The extract shows many signs of Huck’s (sometimes bizarre) ideas of the supernatural, and his methods of diverting what he considers to be bad luck: I didn’t need anybody to tell me to tell me that that was an awful bad sign … I got up and turned around in my track three times and crossed my breast every time; and then I tied up a little lock of my hair with a thread to keep the witches away. The language employed by Huck when talking of his superstitions reveals the seriousness of his beliefs. He openly admits, “I was scared” and “I hadn’t no confidence”.

Despite this, he appears dismissive of Jim’s superstitions later on in chapter 8 where Jim claims he is going to be rich because he has “hairy arms en a hairy bres'”, to which Huck replies “Well, are you rich? ” This highlights the cultural differences between Huck and Jim, and how each individual’s ideas differ in accordance to their belief. Both Huck and Jim, however, seem to share belief in the supernatural. Chapter 4 sees Jim apparently talking to a hairball taken from an ox’s stomach, having placed a quarter under it, and what it says eventually turns out to be true, as Huck finds his father when he goes upstairs.

Huck and Jim’s acceptance of the supernatural probably suggests something about their characters. Jim, for example, has probably been brought up to believe these mystical occurrences, which would have been part of his heritage as an afro-american, and perhaps reflects a certain degree of wisdom. With Huck, on the other hand, this reflects a level of naivety, as he would have been brought up to think logically. However, outside influences such as Jim, and perhaps even Tom Sawyer, as well as his childish colourful imagination, have led him to believe that such things could happen.

In conclusion, this extract encapsulates many of the themes and ideas of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. However, there are many other themes that are raised in other parts of the novel. For example, there is the issue of slavery and racism, which is raised predominantly by Jim’s involvement in the novel. Deceit is also another recurring theme, shown sometimes by Huck himself, but the main contributors to this are the duke and the dauphin. This extract, however, depicts the themes of the natural world, the supernatural world and the personal characteristics of the narrative extremely well.

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