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Huck Finn Social Satire

Mark Twain effectively satirizes the three social classes of the story, and he attacks certain social injustices that he sees in society.
by

Bobby Wolford

on 8 December 2010

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Transcript of Huck Finn Social Satire

Huck Finn Social Satire Social Classes "Upper Class"
Miss Watson, Widow Douglas, the Grangerfords, Judge Thatcher, the Phelps, the Wilks "Lower Class"
Huck Finn, the Mob, the townspeople in Arkansas, Tom Sawyer, the King and the Duke "Slaves"
Jim, Jim's Family, the slaves of the Grangerfords and Phelps "Blind Faith" Religious Hypocrisy Pride, Despise for Lower Classes, Racism “She told me to pray every day, and whatever I asked for I would get it. But it warn’t so. I tried it” (Twain 19).
Shows how Twain satirizes the upper class’ blind faith by showing their lack of recognition for reality.
“‘Well who done the shooting?’ ‘Laws, how do I know? It was so long ago’” (Twain 120).
Shows how the feud passed down from generation to generation between the two families, and it shows how naïve they are with the situation and why they are fighting in the first place. They just feel inclined to fight. Feud Between the Grangerfords and the Shepherdsons
“The men took their guns along… and kept them between their knees or stood them handy against the wall. The Shepherdsons done the same” (Twain 121).
Satirizes the integrity of their religious beliefs. They should be working for peace, and they should try to stop the feud if they were truly religious.
Slavery
Miss Watson owns a slave, yet is a religious woman. The Grangerfords own over 100 slaves, yet they go to church.
Similar to many southern slave owners. Seems like a recurring theme in the southern aristocracy during this time period. The Phelps (Aunt Sally)
“‘… anybody hurt?’ ‘No’m. Killed a n**ger.’ ‘Well, it’s lucky; because sometimes people do get hurt’” (Twain 234-235).
Shows how many wealthy southerners did not care for the slaves. Twain satirizes their feelings of superiority over the slaves, and their views of the slaves as inferior (“Huck Finn: A Treasure Trove of Satire” ¶11).
Miss Watson and Aunt Sally with Huck: trying to impose learning on him
“Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me and I can’t stand it. I been there before” (Twain 307).
Trying to impose their lifestyle on a lower-class person (Huck) against his will. This shows their pride and their belief that their way is best. Mob Mentality Impact of Alcoholism Deceitfulness to Obtain Money or move up in Society “The third night the house was crammed again… but people that was at the show the other two nights” (Twain 164).
The mob was coming back to attack the Nonesuch performers, after being scammed by them the previous two nights.
Looking for revenge, anger amongst the lower class for being scammed, Twain satirizes the vengeful and aggressive behavior of lower class people in the south.
“My, but there was a crowd there! Fifteen farmers, and every one of them had a gun” (Twain 286).
Twain once again satirizes the mob mentality of the lower class.
If they are willing to bear arms to go after Jim, it shows their unruliness and how uncivilized they really are. Pap“… pap took it and got drunk… then they jailed him” (Twain 31).Twain satirizes the effects of alcoholism on the lower class, as well as, the trouble it can get people into.Sherburn and Boggs“He was drunk… he’d come to town to kill old Colonel Sherburn” (Twain 153). Sherburn ended up killing Boggs because Boggs was drunk and belligerent.Once again shows how alcoholism leads to problems ("Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Theme of Drugs and Alcohol" ¶4), Twain satirizes this in the way Boggs acts while being drunk. It cost him his life. Royal Nonesuch
The Duke and the King skillfully deceive the crowd into coming for three nights, and then successfully rip them off and take their money: “Them rapscallions took in 465 dollars in that three nights” (Twain 165).
Twain satirizes the desperateness of the Duke and the King to make money off of the lowest, cheapest scams, and this shows their desire to make money.
The King and the Duke stoop lower
The King and the Duke pretend to be the deceased Wilks’ brothers (Harvey and William). They plan to steal thousands of dollars worth of money from the family that the deceased brother wanted to give to them: “…three-thousand dollars in gold to Harvey and William, and told where the six-thousand cash was hid, down cellar” (Twain 179).
Stealing from a family that recently lost a family member: shows how low they are willing to go to move up. Twain satirizes the underhand conduct of some lower class citizens trying to get money. They will do anything regardless of how immoral it is. Superstition The Way Slaves Spoke The Slaves' Views on the Importance of their Family “The whoops was warnings… they’d just take us into bad luck” (Twain 97-98).
Jim explained the dream he had, and it shows his firms beliefs in superstition.
Twain satirizes the slave concepts of superstition based on their ancient cultural beliefs.
“Chickens knows when its gwyne to rain, en so do the birds, chile” (Twain 59).
Another example of his superstition, and it is quite common throughout the novel (“Huck Finn: A Treasure Trove of Satire” ¶18).
His beliefs make no sense: Twain is pointing out the nonsense of what Jim is saying because it makes no sense. “Oh, it’s de dad-blame witches, sah, en I wisht I was dead, I do” (Twain 251).“Blame de pint! I reck’n I knows what I knows” (Twain 90).Twain is satirizing their lack of education in the way they speak.It doesn’t make much sense, and Twain is hinting at the improper way in which they speak, almost as if it was their language, because all slaves in the book talk like this. Jim in chapter 16 was talking about how he would gradually buy his wife and family out of slavery once he got to the free states and got a job (Twain 100-101).
“Po’ little ‘Lizabeth! Po’ little Johnny! Its mighty hard; I spec’ I ain’t ever gwyne to see you no mo’…” (Twain 167).
Shows how much he values his family, and this is apparent by his plans to buy them out of slavery, and then he voices his despair because he thinks he’ll never see his family again.
Twain hints at the importance of the family in the slave culture, and he points out to that by showing Jim’s plans and Jim’s remorse. Many other runaway slaves probably felt the same way. Bobby Wolford and Travis Pate
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