Huckleberry Finn

This essay has a total of 1512 words and 6 pages.

Huckleberry Finn


Huckleberry Finn provides the narrative voice of Mark Twain's novel, and his honest voice
combined with his personal vulnerabilities reveal the different levels of the
Grangerfords' world. Huck is without a family: neither the drunken attention of Pap nor
the pious ministrations of Widow Douglas were desirable allegiance. He stumbles upon the
Grangerfords in darkness, lost from Jim and the raft. The family, after some initial
cross-examination, welcomes, feeds and rooms Huck with an amiable boy his age. With the
light of the next morning, Huck estimates "it was a mighty nice family, and a mighty nice
house, too"(110). This is the first of many compliments Huck bestows on the Grangerfords
and their possessions. Huck is impressed by all of the Grangerfords' belongings and
liberally offers compliments. The books are piled on the table "perfectly exact"(111), the
table had a cover made from "beautiful oilcloth"(111), and a book was filled with
"beautiful stuff and poetry"(111). He even appraises the chairs, noting they are "nice
split-bottom chairs, and perfectly sound, too-not bagged down in the middle and busted,
like an old basket"(111). It is apparent Huck is more familar with busted chairs than
sound ones, and he appreciates the distinction.


Huck is also more familiar with flawed families than loving, virtuous ones, and he is
happy to sing the praises of the people who took him in. Col. Grangerford "was a gentleman
all over; and so was his family"(116). The Colonel was kind, well-mannered, quiet and far
from frivolish. Everyone wanted to be around him, and he gave Huck confidence. Unlike the
drunken Pap, the Colonel dressed well, was clean-shaven and his face had "not a sign of
red in it anywheres"(116). Huck admired how the Colonel gently ruled his family with hints
of a submerged temper. The same temper exists in one of his daughters: "she had a look
that would make you wilt in your tracks, like her father. She was beautiful"(117). Huck
does not think negatively of the hints of iron in the people he is happy to care for and
let care for him. He does not ask how three of the Colonels's sons died, or why the family
brings guns to family picnics. He sees these as small facets of a family with "a handsome
lot of quality"(118). He thinks no more about Jim or the raft, but knows he has found a
new home, one where he doesn't have to go to school, is surrounded by interior and
exterior beauty, and most importantly, where he feels safe. Huck "liked that family, dead
ones and all, and warn't going to let anything come between us"(118).


Huck is a very personable narrator. He tells his story in plain language, whether
describing the Grangerford's clock or his hunting expedition with Buck. It is through his
precise, trusting eyes that the reader sees the world of the novel. Because Huck is so
literal, and does not exaggerate experiences like Jim or see a grand, false version of
reality like Tom Sawyer, the reader gains an understanding of the world Mark Twain
created, the reader is able to catch Twain's jokes and hear his skepticism. The
Grangerford's furniture, much admired by Huck, is actually comicly tacky. You can almost
hear Mark Twain laughing over the parrot-flanked clock and the curtains with cows and
castles painted on them even as Huck oohs and ahhs. And Twain pokes fun at the young dead
daughter Huck is so drawn to. Twain mocks Emmeline as an amateur writer: "She warn't
particular, she could write about anything you choose to give her to write about, just so
it was sadful"(114). Yet Twain allows the images of Emmeline and the silly clock to deepen
in meaning as the chapter progresses. Emmeline is realized as an early portent of the
destruction of Huck's adopted family. The mantel clock was admired by Huck not only for
its beauty, but because the Grangerfords properly valued beauty and "wouldn't took any
money for her"(111). Huck admired the Grangerfords' principles, and the stake they placed
in good manners, delicious food, and attractive possessions. But Huck realizes in Chapter
18 that whereas the Grangerfords may value a hand-painted clock more than money, they put
little value on human life.


The third view of the Grangerford's world is provided by Buck Grangerford. He is the same
age as Huck; he has grown up in a world of feuding, family picnics, and Sunday sermon that
are appreciated but rarely followed. Buck, from when he meets Huck until he is brutally
murdered, never questions the ways of his family. For the rest of the chapter, Buck
provides a foil for Huck, showing the more mature Huck questioning and judging the world
around him. In fact it seems Buck does not have the imagination to conceive of a different
world. He is amazed Huck has never heard of a feud, and surprised by Huck's desire to hear
the history and the rationale behind it. In Buck Grangerford's rambling answers we hear
Mark Twain's view of a southern feuding family, and after Buck finishes his answer, we
Continues for 3 more pages >>




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