October 26, 2005
Huck Finn Essays
In the Introduction to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Henry Nash Smith writes about various themes in the novel, especially that of Jim and the idea of slavery. He also remarks on the language of the novel, an important part of the book for me. "These uses of language represent and impressive accomplishment in the art of fiction." Clemens was an innovator in writing in many ways- with his satirical style, portrayal of Jim in a realistic fashion, and, of course, his language. Rather than trying to make the characters speak correctly, which would have seemed out of place in the context of the novel, Clemens uses the distinct dialects of the area. This adds a realism to the novel and changes the idea that literature must be written "correctly".
Race is a large issue in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, as noted in the David L. Smith essay Huck, Jim, and American Radical Discourse. "Twain, however, did not view racism as an isolated phenomenon, and his effort to place racism within the context of other cultural traditions produced the most problematic aspect of his novel." Clemens does not hide the way African Americans were treated during this time and did not attempt to cover it up. Some readers have problems with this fact, citing racism throughout the book. Yet Clemens made the novel realistic in all aspects, including the treatment of slaves.
Posted by VanessaKolberg at October 26, 2005 11:31 AM
I agree with the fact the language in the book was the basis of the novel. Had the novel been written using correct language we would not have gotten the same effect from the novel.
I also agree with the fact that the race factor is present in the novel, but it is realistic and true to that time period. The novel is not racist beyond the point of being true to the time period.
I agree with Stacey. The language was used for the effect. Think about The Scarlet Letter. Don't laugh, but I read portions of that text with a slight English accent. It makes it more realistic. The same is with how Twain wrote this novel. What I wonder, is if he wrote other things in this language or if he fabricated this form of writing? I checked his writing in The Prince and the Pauper and it was different. http://www.americanliterature.com/PP/PPINDX.HTML I really didn't check to see what his other writings were like...sorry...
I agree. It's hard to read a novel from that time period without considering the context. If we look closely enough, Clemens actually comes across as an individual deeply concerned with the welfare of the oppressed classes. Also one who is extremely annoyed with the superficial nature of "sivilized" society.
The language really sets the tone and history behind what was actually going on. The idea of slavery is relevant to that time period. I love the realism in the story, because it completely sets an image to the story being read. There are some complex issues behind such an "easy-plotted" novel.
I agree Vanessa. I think the special dialect that Clemens uses helps give an authentic effect to the novel. I don't think the adventures would have been as effective if proper English was used.