Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn Book Analysis Essay

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn : Rhetorical Analysis Essay

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a novel written by Mark Twain, is an important literary work because of it’s use of satire. It is a story written about a boy, Huck, in search of freedom and adventure. In the beginning of the story you learn what has happened since The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Huck and Tom found a hidden treasure that was later invested for them. Huck was taken in by Mrs. Watson, who attempted to teach him religion and proper manners, but was taken away when his father returned.

Pap, being a drunk and abusive father, imprisons Huck because he wants the money Huck has invested for him. Huck fakes his own death and hides out on Jackson’s Island, where he discovers Jim, Mrs. Watson’s former slave, is also hiding. Jim turns into a father figure and also a friend to Huck. The innocence Huck has leads him to having a true friendship in a time of racial discrimination. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain employs several types of satire including verbal irony, rhetorical questions jargon, and parallelism.

Verbal irony by definition is when someone states one thing and means another; an incongruity between what is said and what is meant. Twain uses verbal irony in his novel when the band of robbers are discussing the meaning of “ransoming. ” Tom says, “Well I don’t know, but perhaps if we keep them till they’re ransomed, it means we keep them until they’re dead. ” (Twain 12) All of the boys in the gang immediately agreed upon this definition with Tom. This is an example of satire because Twain is trying to show that though something may be wrong, if society believes it to be true, then it may conform to the “truth. The verbal irony of this is how Tom is stating what he believes to be ransoming, but not actually knowing what it is to ransom. I believe this shows how ignorant as well as dependent on others out civilization can be. In addition to his use of verbal irony, Twain uses rhetorical questions which are question posed by the writer not to seek an answer but to affirm or deny a point by asking a question.. He incorporates this device in Chapter 3, when Huck says, “If a body can get anything they pray for then why can’t Deacon Winn get back the money he lost on pork?

Why can’t the widow get back her silver snuff box that was stole? ” (Twain 14) Throughout the novel religion is being forced upon Huck. Huck is questioning the validity of their beliefs. I believe this is an example of satire because despite Huck’s disbelief in religion, it is still forced upon him. It is too often, in my opinion, that people think everyone must have the same beliefs. This use of satire may affect the reader by showing them how many civilizations are unwilling to except change and difference. Another example of satire is shown through Jargon.

Jargon is a specialized language concerned with a particular subject, culture, or profession, or language characterized by syntax, vocabulary, or meaning. Jim uses a specialized language because he has no former education. This is shown when Jim says, “I daan’ want to go fool’n ‘longer no wrack. We’s doin’ blame’ well, and we better let blame’ well as long as the good book says. ” (Twain 79) Twain uses this satirical device device of Jargon in this selection to show that Jim speaks the way he does because he has not been given the opportunity to go to school and become properly educated.

Parallelism is defined as a set of similarly structured words, phrases, or clauses. When Huck is explaining how nervous they were when they were nearly caught he says, “we didn’t touch an oar, we didn’t speak no whisper, we hardly even breathe. ” (Twain 85) Twain uses parallelism in this selection by repeating similar phrases in order to show the readers how fearful Jim and Huck were. Satirical devices were used throughout the novel of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

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Twain explores and satirizes many problems facing American society such as religion, civilization, and racism to prove a point and to try to change the reader’s opinion about the subject. The author uses of verbal irony, rhetorical questions jargon, and parallelism portray the inconsistencies in our moral consciousness. Because society is constantly pronouncing lies, Twain makes an effort to dramatize the truth, that grotesque people are actually a product of society. He continues to strive towards his dream of brotherhood.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn : Rhetorical Analysis Essay

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  • 1

    Select five characters that Twain does not admire in Huck Finn. Name and describe the specific traits that each possesses that makes him or her not an admirable person.

  • 2

    Select five characters that Twain does admire. Name and discuss the specific traits that each possesses that makes him or her admirable.

  • 3

    Violence and greed are motivations of much of the action in this book. Discuss, giving at least three examples of each.

  • 4

    Mark Twain was able to find humor in situations that most people would regard as serious. Discuss and provide specific references from the novel.

  • 5

    Some critics claim that Jim is Huck's "true father." Defend or refute this statement.

  • 6

    Discuss the qualities Huck posesses which are necessary for survival on the frontier. Give specific examples from the novel.

  • 7

    What is the symbolic importance of the setting of the novel (land vs. river)?

  • 8

    What does the reader infer about Twain's attitude towared slavery and racism?

  • 9

    Discuss how the river provides freedom for Huck.

  • 10

    What is "civilization" in the mind of Huck?

  • 11

    Discuss how Huck grows as a person; what life lessons does he learn from his encounters on the river?

  • 12

    Although Mark Twain, in his introductory "notice" to the novel, denies that there is a moral or motive in the story, the work itself contradicts its author. How?

  • 13

    Discuss the role of religion in the novel.

  • 14

    Discuss Huck as an archetype hero.

  • 15

    What does Twain admire in a man and what is he contemptuous of?

  • 16

    This novel is also a satire on human weaknesses. What human traits does he satirize? Give examples for each.

  • 17

    What evidence do you find of Twain's cynicism?

  • 18

    Discuss three recurring motifs (any idea, object, feeling, color, pattern, etc. which repeats itself) in the novel. Give specifics.

  • 19

    Discuss the role of superstition in the novel. Explain how Twain criticizes superstitious beliefs and give specific examples.

  • 20

    Appearance versus reality is a major theme in Huckleberry Finn. Using specifics from the book, discuss this very prevalent theme.

  • 21

    How does Huck search for a family? What does he find and what does he learn?

  • 22

    How is Huck's trip down the river actually a passage into manhood?

  • 23

    How would you defend Huckleberry Finn against charges of being a racist novel?

  • 24

    Huckleberry Finn has been called the "Great American Novel." However, it is the sixth most frequently banned book in the United States. Discuss why this masterpiece is banned mostly in Christian academies and in all black institutions.

  • 25

    Explain how the American Dream is or is not achieved by three characters in this novel. Begin by explaining what each character holds as his or her American Dream.

  • 26

    Discuss how Huck displays several textbook characteristics of the child of an alcoholic.

  • 27

    Analyze and trace the moral maturation of Huck Finn. Discuss the events that disgusted and depressed him, the coping skills that he learned, and his actions and the circumstances for such.

  • 28

    "Picaresque" is a word used to describe a character who comes from a low class of society, is poor, lives by his/her wits, travels, and has eposodic adventures. Using specific examples and quotes from the novel, explain how Huck is a picaresque figure.

  • 29

    A persona is an alternate name and personality uses for many different reasons. Discuss the many personas used in the novel.

  • 30

    Discuss the similarities and differences between Jim and Pap, as parents.

  • 31

    If you had to name a modern day Huck Finn who would it be?

  • 32

    Explain how Huck's loss of innocence as a boy is symbolic of America as the country moves towards the Civil War.

  • 33

    Compare and contrast Realism and Romanticism in the novel.

  • 34

    Select two of the social institutions (i.e. democracy) at which Twain pokes fun. Use specific references to show how he accomplishes this.

  • 35

    What do you think makes this novel an important record of American culture?

  • 36

    Point out the weak and strong character traits in Huck. How do his character and personality compare with those of Tom Sawyer?

  • 37

    Lionel Trilling says that Huck possesses a sense of humor. Do you think this is so? Site examples for a yes or no answer.

  • 38

    A major unifying element in the novel is illusion (pretense) vs. reality. Find examples. Explain their significance to Twain's overall themes.

  • 39

    Identify the literary techniques used by Mark Twain in Huckleberry Finn. Consider techniques such as: figures of speech, language, narrative techniques, sentence structure, diction, organization, syntax, detail, structure, imagery, irony, and tone.

  • 40

    How does Mark Twain create a humorous effect (exaggeration, irony, satire, understatement)?

  • 41

    How does Twain use satire to expose and criticize human failings?

  • 42

    Discuss Jim as a Christ figure.

  • 43

    As a way of illustrating his theme, Twain deliberately sets certain events with Huck and Jim on the river and others on the shore. Compare and contrast the major events on the river with those on the shore and develop a supportable thesis for why you think he makes the choices he does. How do these choices subtly reinforce his theme? Back up your thesis with specific quotes and detailed explanations.

  • 44

    Discuss how Twain criticises the values of Southern society by showing the difference between Huck's acquired values and his own innate sense of goodness.

  • 45

    Discuss the theme of individual conscience verses society and how it relates to the theme of freedom in the novel.

  • 46

    Authors often use dramatic irony to define something. Describe how Mark Twain uses dramatic irony to define "freedom."

  • 47

    In some ways Huck's story is mythical but it is also an anti-myth -- a challenge to the deceits which individuals and cultures use to disguise their true natures from themselves. In the midst of this deceitful culture, Huck stands as a peculiarly honest individual. Discuss, referencing the novel.

  • 48

    Discuss the Civilized, Primitive, and Natural Man in Huck Finn.

  • 49

    Huck is born into nature, but is morally influenced by society.How does the book show Huck's development into trusting his natural morals again?

  • 50

    Discuss historical revisionism and whether Huck Finn should be part of a high school curriculm.

  • 51

    The overall American critical reaction to the publishing of The Adventures of Huck Finn in 1885 was summed up in one word: "trash". Louisa May Alcott (author of Little Women and Little Men) said, "If Mr. Clemens cannot think of anything better to tell our pure-minded lads and lassies, he had better stop writing for them." The Public Library Committee of Concord, Massachusetts excluded the book as "a dangerous moral influence on the young." Defend or refute the position that the novel is indeed "trash" with evidence from the text to support your claim.

  • 52

    Compare and contrast Rule of the Bone by Russell Banks with Huckleberry Finn.

  • 53

    Twain's writings were directly affected by him growing up in Hannibal. How did Twain write about himself through the characters Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer as well as through many others?


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