Humor and Irony in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

930 Words 4 Pages
“Persons attempting to find a moral in [this narrative] will be banished” (Twain 3). Just as his first lines in the novel, Mark Twain fills The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with his signature style of humor and irony, which makes it one of the most influential works of American literature. This controversial novel relates the story of Huck, a rebellious white boy, and Jim, a black slave. Together they run away in the pursuit of freedom down the Mississippi River. When published, the novel received a lot of criticism for Twain’s implicit moral message; the novel is Twain’s indictment against racism.
Throughout the years, Huck Finn’s message has been misinterpreted as racist. In fact, according to John H. Wallace the narrative is
…show more content…
In order to understand Twain’s indictment against racism, one must comprehend the irony in the text. During the course of the narrative, Twain fools the reader by writing the opposite of what he actually means. For example, he made the duke and the King, who naturally would come from a “high place” (Twain 114), be miserable, white con men. Twain’s irony stands when Huck says:
The king he got the bag before I could think more than about a half a thought, and he never suspicioned I was around. They took and shoved the bag through a rip in the straw tick that was under the feather-bed, and crammed it in a foot or two amongst the straw and said it was all right now, because a nigger only makes up the feather-bed, and don’t turn over the straw tick only about twice a year, and so it warn’t in no danger of getting stole now. (Twain 162)
Twain intends to unveil the absurdity of the racial stereotypes by switching the roles of the Duke and King to thieves and the black slave to an honest and trustworthy man. Twain’s use of irony continues in the passage where Aunt Sally asks why Huck arrived late to the farm. Huck tells her that the steamboat blew out a cylinder head; when she learns that the accident only “killed a nigger”; she feels relieved “because sometimes people do get hurt” (Twain 201). The irony in this chapter exposes how a “sentimental, warmhearted woman” (Nichols 213) like Aunt Sally simply cannot care for, or acknowledge as a human being a black slave.

Related Documents