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Huckleberry Finn Analysis Essay

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Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been regarded as one of the greatest novels in American regionalism. So many Americans have read it, and many have enjoyed it and many believe that it is worthy of the highest praise, and deserves to be included in the canon of Great American literature. As a piece of regionalist literature, the novel shines out amongst other novels. Twain vividly describes the Mississippi river and surrounding area of Missouri with detail unrivaled.

His characters’ dialogue accurately depicts the dialogue of the area, and their attitudes, especially towards African Americans, are also historically accurate. However, as Huck and Jim move farther south down the river, Twain loses touch with his style of writing. The regionalist aspect suddenly crumbles, and his plot line gets outrageously unbelievable. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is not deserving of inclusion in the canon of Great American literature. As Jane Smiley said in her essay Say It Ain’t So, Huck, “There is more to be learned about the American character from its canonization than through its canonization(Smiley 61).

If Twain had kept the story line in his territory of familiarity the outcome may be different, but as his setting moves south, his writing moves right along with it. To clearly see how Twain’s writing deteriorates as the novel progresses one must compare quotes from when the novel is set in Missouri to when the novel is set farther south. Here is a quote from the beginning of the novel, describing the area around Jackson Island, “…but mostly it was big trees all about, and gloomy in there amongst them.

There was freckled Boyer 2 freckled places on the ground where the light sifted down through the leaves, and the freckled places swapped about a little, showing there was a little breeze up there”(Twain, 51). The way he describes nature in this excerpt shows his true talent. The personification of the ground and the light, giving it the human-like characteristics of freckles gives the passage a personal touch. His diction and prose make the reader feel like they are watching the golden beams of light dance before their eyes.

This is why Mark Twain and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are recognized across America. However, in Chapter 31, when Jim ends up on the Phelps’ plantation, and the Phelps end up being Tom Sawyer’s family, and the Phelps mistake Huck for Tom and Tom for Sid, Twain is really pushing the believability of his novel, and from this excerpt we can see that the beauty of his prose is gone, as though he’s lost touch with the regionalist touch that makes his writing great, “‘Phelps’s was one of these little one-horse cotton plantations, and they all look alike.

A rail fence round a two-acre yard; a stile made out of logs sawed off and up-ended in steps, like barrels of different length…(Twain, 273)” and on and on about the buildings of the plantation. There is nothing here that even remotely sounds like it came from someone who knows the area. Twain even says, “…and they all look alike” in the passage.

He really lost his essence and creativity. He wrote out of his sphere of knowledge, and his novel suffers for it. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is a wonderful piece of literature. Twain captures the true essence of being a teenage boy on a big adventure on the lazy Mississippi river.

However, the end of his novel switches settings from Missouri, to further south, on a plantation coincidentally owned by Tow Sawyer’s family, and the reader can clearly see that Twain was out of his element, and he lost the wonderful sense of regionalism that made his Boyer 3 his works, and his era, influential in American literature, mainly because he wasn’t writing about the region he knew, grew up in, and loved. This is why Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is not deserving of inclusion into the great canon of American literature.

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