Regionalism in The Adventures of ”Huckleberry Finn”
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Regionalism is the tendency to focus on a specific geographical region or locality, re-creating its unique setting. Mark Twain displays regionalism in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn through characters, topography, and dialect. Regionalism is displayed through the characters Huckleberry and Jim in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. A main character that Twain displays regionalism through is Jim, Miss Watson’s slave. “In the character of Jim, Twain embodies the pain and consequences suffered by an entire race at the hands of a dominant white society. Jim symbolizes the absurdity and hypocrisy of one race’s feelings of self-righteousness when dominating another race (DeKoster 25).” During their adventure on the raft down the river, Jim takes Huck under his wing. Jim gives up his chance at freedom to take care of Tom’s gunshot wounds. This is important, and displays regionalism, because Tom is the reason Jim’s freedom was placed in jeopardy. Regionalism is also shown through the way Huck reacts and treats Jim on the journey. Huck’s main struggle in the book is with his conscience, the set of morals with which he has been raised (DeKoster 46).
Huck is raised to treat black people as if they are property and not human beings. When Huck paddles towards the shore in order to turn Jim in, he believes he has done wrong when he cannot go through with it. This is a test of Huckleberry’s conscience, and he views it as failure to himself. This represents regionalism because Huck has taken a stand against a corrupt society. Through Huck, Twain attacks that part of the conscience that unquestioningly adheres to society’s laws and mores, even when they are wrong (insert citation here). Huck goes against what he is taught and brought up, in order to do what his heart is telling him. Huck portrays regionalism because in the time of slavery it was not only against the law to do what he did, but many people thought it to be morally wrong. Although regionalism is shown through the character’s actions, it is also displayed through the setting.
The topography in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn displays regionalism through its detail and timing. The book takes place when slavery was at its highest rate in America. “It addresses in a roundabout way the prejudices of southern whites that had laid the foundation for slavery and were still omnipresent in the Reconstruction South of Twain’s time (Kaye 14).” The time of the book is an example of regionalism because of its vital place in society. Huck and Jim have to deal with southern whites such as the slave hunters while on their adventure. Huck being under the authority of his abusive father, shows another element of slavery in the time era. Not did the timing of the book show regionalism, but the physical setting as well.