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What are 4 different linguistic features(eg. repetition) in Huck's language that...

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seraphina | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted September 26, 2009 at 12:42 PM via web

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What are 4 different linguistic features(eg. repetition) in Huck's language that greatly effect the reader with how they feel about him.

How does this device and its effect help Twain criticize a specific element of society?

This is what I have to do for an essay and i'm just so confused. I also have to give specific evidence of each linguistic feature.

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 26, 2009 at 1:40 PM (Answer #1)

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A recent scholar said that Twain based Huck's linguistic patterns off of a 10 year-old African-American servant that Twain listened to before starting the book (link below).

The most obvious linguistic element (besides repetition) that Huck uses when he narrates is dialect.  Huck Finn is the first American novel to use a child's voice as a regionalized voice.  As he tells his tall tales, Huck becomes a folk hero by virtue of his voice.

Second, Huck's naivete of cultural conventions comes through in his voice.  Huck does not know proper adult discourse, which is part of Twain's own satiric humor.  Huck can't even play along with jokes. When Buck asks Huck, "where Moses was when the candle went out,"  Huck responds, "How'm I going to guess," says I, "when I never heard tell about it before?"  Such questioning reveals an endearing, uncorrupted voice.

Third, Huck is a brilliant liar.  He ranks just behind Odysseus in his ability to lie and get away with it.  But, in literature, his lying can be classified many ways: as verbal irony, overstatement, understatement, hyperbole, or sarcasm (used sparingly).  All of these contribute to a work of situational satire and parody.

All of these add up to a narrator who should be--based on his age and use of language--morally, intellectually, and culturally inferior to his readers and fellow characters (except Jim).  In other words, Twain uses the dialect to subvert his readers' pre-judgements, thereby fooling the reader into believing this outcast in the end.  Huck's lies, ironically, are morally justified in the Jim Crow setting.


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kimfuji | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted September 26, 2009 at 6:14 PM (Answer #2)

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There are many instances inthe novel where Huck's reaction to a speciifc situation is so clear and innocent--which is heightened by his regionalized English-- that it makes the reader see the irony and brings out the satire. For example, that part where Huck meets the two feuding clans, the way he asks questions about why they have been feuding all these years, his language highlights the stupidity of their clinging to the loyalty to their family by fighting. And it really brings out the stupid reasons that states or nations go to war.

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