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How does Twain explore or express ideas of "prejudice and hypocritical people" in The...

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misstori | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 26, 2012 at 8:26 AM via web

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How does Twain explore or express ideas of "prejudice and hypocritical people" in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?

What 1) human behaviors, 2)ideas/beliefs, and 3)situations/actions does Twain explore in his novel? what message he wants readers to grasp through his use of satire?

I understand that Twain wrote this novel because growing up, he did not like how prejudice and hypocritical people were. He wanted to expose the "flaws" of society and show the world that it was okay to be different and that people were all practically the same. I also have to find examples for each, but I just need a nudge in the right direction.

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e-martin | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 8, 2013 at 10:34 PM (Answer #1)

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People have quite a difficult time grasping or apprehending the truth in this novel. The truth here is often simple, factual, and straight-forward yet it eludes the majority of the characters in the novel. 

Examples abound of characters being fooled or fooling others. Even in moments of supposedly deep emotion, people cling to falsehood, allow themselves to be hoodwinked, and champion frauds over figures of reality. 

This is true at the revival when the King swindles the "believers" and during the extended episode with the Wilks family as they side with the fake "King" against a close friend who advises them honestly. 

The exploration of the gullibility of a whole society is certainly an comment on the ease with which hypocrisy can overtake those who are not diligent. It is also a rather sad portrayal of an adult world that awaits Huck Finn upon maturing. 

While we might laugh while we are impressed with Huck's decision to "go to hell" if he has to to save a friend, this comedy is of a classic sort, masking a regrettable social reality.

Although the charm and humor of this novel are never lacking, its depiction of life in an age of barbaric custom strikes the modern reader with a sense of immediacy that is not to be dismissed. Indeed, it is characteristic of Twain’s later, more mature work that an edge of cynicism touches most every scene.

The false nature of Huck's choice between society's morality and his own, intuitive morality is yet another aspect of the novel's general exploration of falseness of belief and of behavior. 

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