In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, what is the author's tone in the following passage?
... but, as I was saying, she died before she got her mind made up, and now they kept this picture over the head of the bed in her room, and every time her birthday come they hung flowers on it. Other times, it was hid with the little curtain. The young woman in the picture had a kind of a nice sweet face, but there was so many arms it made her look too spidery, seemd to me.
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Your question raises an interesting issue, which is the way in which Twain writes from the perspective of Huckleberry Finn, yet at the same time obviously also uses Huck as a mouthpiece to subtley make it clear what he thinks about a variety of issues. In Chapter Seventeen, where your quote is taken from, we are introduced to the dead Emmeline Grangerford and her paintings. Emmeline Grangerford was a girl who was clearly obsessed by death, and the painting that your quote refers to indicates this maudlin obsession of hers. Note what we are told about it:
It was a picture of a young woman in a long white gown, standing on teh rail of a bridge all ready to jump off, with her hair all down her back, and looking up to the moon, with the tears running down her face, and she had two arms folded across her breast, and two arms stretched out in front, and two more reaching up towards the moon--and the idea was to see which pair would look best, and then scratch out all the other arms...
The way in which the girl is presented and the added detail of the arms, which, Huck says, make the girl in the picture look "too spidery" clearly indicate the tone of ridicule and mockery that Twain uses to describe Emmeline Grangerford and her artistic endeavours. The way that she died before she was able to finish this painting, leaving the "spider woman" behind as a lasting testimony, is highly ironic, especially as her family treat it as a kind of shrine to remember her by.
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