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Background and Literary Elements, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Transcript of Background and Literary Elements, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
a literary technique that employs sarcasm, mockery and humor to expose human folly, abuse, or ignorance with the intent to shame individuals and society into improving itself
a pictorial or literary portrayal of an individual or object with characteristic features distorted or exaggerated for comic effect
occurs when the truth is stretched for entertainment or for humorous effect
a contrast between appearance or expectation and reality
Situational: a contrast between what is expected to happen and what actually happens
Verbal: a contrast between what is spoken and what is actually true
Dramatic: a contrast between what the character thinks and what the audience/reader knows to be true
a boisterous form of comedy marked by chases, collisions, and crude practical jokes
This book has been one of the most frequently challenged books of all time
Is the book racist? (Use of the "n" word)
Should it be taught in school?
Narrator who does not understand the full significance of the events he describes
Gives his or her own understanding of a story, instead of the interpretation the author wishes the audience to obtain
Huck is not intentionally unreliable; his lack of education and experience makes him so.
Much of the humor in the first chapters comes from Huck's incomplete understanding of the adults around him and their "civilized ways."
Written between 1876-1883
Setting: Mississippi River, ca. 1840
A satirical novel--mocking society to provoke change
A Bildungsroman--coming of age novel
Uses vernacular language, or local dialects
Realism (ca. 1860-1900):
"Life through a clear glass window"
Regionalism: Literature that
attempts to capture the
characteristics of a
Dialect is the distinct form of a language as it is spoken in one geographical area or by a particular social or ethnic group.
A group's dialect is reflected in its characteristic pronunciations, vocabulary, expressions, and grammatical constructions
When trying to reproduce a given dialect, writers often use unconventional spellings to suggest the way words actually sound.
Example from Huck Finn: "But looky here, Huck, who wuz it dat 'us killed in dat shanty, ef it warn't you?"
Writers often use dialect to provide local color
Slapstick humor in Home Alone
Slapstick humor in Looney Tunes
Twain said the novel revolves around the conflict between Huck's "sound heart and deformed conscience"
How do you pronounce . . .
Dialect in the U.S.
Soda . . . or Pop?:
Mark Twain's Life
Twain's birth name was Samuel Clemens
Born in Missouri and lived in a town on the Mississippi River
Affluent family that owned slaves
Started out as a printer and then, became a riverboat pilot until the Civil War
Defected from the Confederate cavalry, moved to Nevada, and became a journalist in the 1860s
State was originally settled by Native Americans, one of which named the state
Became part of the U.S. in 1821 as the 24th state, after the Missouri Compromise
Missourians favored the Union in the Civil War. Union soldiers outnumbered Confederates four to one
Hannibal, Missouri is Huck Finn's hometown
1820, U.S. Congress regulated slavery
Slave owners applied for statehood and ignited a national debate
If admitted as a slave state, then slave-holding states would outnumber free ones 12 to 11
"Compromise" = Maine applied as a free state, so Missouri got approved as a slave state
Largest river in North America
It starts in Minnesota and end in the Gulf of Mexico (2,340 miles!)
Cargo is shipped on the river
Facts about Slavery
Began in the U.S. in 1619 in Jamestown and became legal by the middle of that century
In the northern states, Africans worked in homes, and in the southern states, they worked on plantations
By 1800, 36,505 of the 893,602 slaves lived in the North
By 1804, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut had freed slaves
By 1860, the 3,953,760 slaves were in the South
Command of Language
T.S. Eliot wrote,
"Twain discovered a new way of writing... a literary language based on American colloquial speech."
How satire works...
Requires some prior knowledge
Is rooted in humor and wit, but is not necessarily overtly funny
Uses exaggeration to highlight the point of criticism
Often the author takes on an “ignorant” voice to further highlight the point of criticism