How does Huck's encounter with the Grangerford family illustrate Twain's views on war? Please provide 2 examples.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Huck's encounter with the feuding families illustrates the futility of war. Not only that, but it shows how war corrupts and how it turns people against themselves and the things that matter most in life. Despite the long-standing feud that's been raging between their families for years, Sophia Grangerford and Harney Shepherdson have fallen in love with each other. Due to the bitter conflict between their families, they have to elope in order to be together. Their clandestine relationship leads directly to bloodshed and death as the Shepherdson-Grangerford feud descends into tragedy.

The feud has blinded the respective families to what's truly important in life. An outdated notion of honor has resulted in numerous family members on both sides being killed. This could be interpreted as a metaphor for war in general in that the prestige of nations (as defined by their ruling elites) takes precedence over the lives—and loves—of individuals.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Through Huck's eyes and realizations, we see Twain's view of the Civil War as well as war in general.

In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the feuding families (the Grangerford and the Sheperdson families) can show us Twain's disdain for war.  When we see that Grangerford family represents the south and the Sheperdson family represents the North, we see the feuding families represent the feuding nation during the Civil War. While both families are considered to be good, upstanding Christian families, we also see that the two families attend Sunday services armed with their guns. 

When asked about what started the feud, neither family can preciously explain the root cause.  Instead, both families instead hold fast to their hatred of the other and fight because it is what they have been taught to do.  Through these actions, Huck questions the sanity behind a war that no one understands, yet supports. 

Huck witnesses the death of Buck Grangerford,a boy about his age.  This senseless tragedy solidifies Huck's beliefs that war is unnecessary and comes with too high of a cost. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial