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Huckleberry Finn, the Unreliable Realist

Neil Desai, Ceana Ghadiri, Neik Khansari, Rajat Mehndiratta; Nommensen AP English III Period 5; 2/6/2013
by

Rajat Mehndiratta

on 6 February 2013

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Transcript of Huckleberry Finn, the Unreliable Realist

In the very first chapter,
Huck brings up that
everyone lies, including presumably,
Huck himself. Huckleberry Finn as the Unreliable Narrator Huck is a child,
inexperienced
in the ways of society.
His inexperience
helps make him an
unreliable narrator. By seeing how the story
is told through the eyes
of a pragmatically dishonest,
inexperienced child,
we know to take
everything he says
with a grain
of salt. Mainly Telling the Truth Definition: n. a first-person narrator who can't be trusted to reliably understand or present the situation around him (e.g. a naive child, a deranged man, Forrest Gump, someone with a personal interest) "I never seen anybody but
lied
one time or another" (1). Unreliable Narrators do not tell the full truth / only tell their understanding of the situation. This makes the reader have come to conclusions on their own.
Huck doesn't have the
education to understand what he observes. Despite pleads by Jim, Huck still wants to go explore the wreck even though it could sink any second Huck doesn't catch on to the trickery of the "King" and the "Duke" due to his naivete and inexperience.

Similarly, Huck demonstrates an undeserved admiration for Tom Sawyer and trusts him to the point of ruining Jim's escape. Case 1: Trust Case 2: Mistrust Unable to understand his society's concept of prayer and "spiritual gifts," Huckleberry reveals himself to be an inept interpreter of Miss Watson and the Widow Douglas's society. "I went out in the woods and turned it over in my mind a long time, but I couldn’t see no advantage about it–except for the other people; so at last I reckoned I wouldn’t worry about it any more, but just let it go" (34). Case 1: Identity "Somehow it didn't seem to me that I said it was Mary before, so I didn't look up—seemed to me I said it was Sarah" (41).

Huck presents different stories about himself to virtually everyone he meets. He values impacts over truth and thus adjusts his behavior to the realities he inhabits (in contrast to Sawyer's idealism) Case 2: Tricking Even the Hairball Case 1: Superstitious Case 2: Further Naivete However, Huck has no interest to uphold the views of his society and in fact becomes more trustworthy as his interest is mere pragmatism- rather than upholding any value system.

Ultimately, Huck only leads us to re-analyze his presentation rather than reject it.

In effect, we become the auxiliary
narrators. Huckleberry
Finn (the counterfeit quarter) Huck constantly buys into superstition, from the hairball to the snakeskin. He's interpreting his reality from a system inherently incongruous with that of his (especially modern readers).

Therefore we are led to skepticism whenever confronted with superstition in the book- the unreliable narrator causes us to see things differently and unearth the author's perspective. the Grangerfords superstition "Ransom" unique lens So, can we trust him? What's he invested in? Huck reveals no particular interests and thus we have little reason to believe that he would actually lie to us completely.

He does not stand for a social system and ultimately only glorifies superstition and individualism. How does this affect the subjects? He doesn't refrain from exposing that the "Spaniards and Arabs" were Sunday school children, or that prayer rewarded him with no fishing goods.

Racially, Huck's bias is quickly shed due to his lack of thorough indoctrination by society. In a sense, this makes him a better narrator and more capable of understanding Jim.
Full transcript