How does Buck define the concept of a feud for Huck in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?What is Twain's point in presenting the concept in this way?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Buck defines the concept of a feud for Huck by saying,

"Well...a feud is this way.  A man has a quarrel with another man, and kills him, then that other man's brother kills him, then the other brothers, on both sides, goes for one another; then the cousins chip in - and by-and-by everybody's killed off, and there ain't no more feud.  But it's kind of slow, and takes a long time".

Huck asks Buck if the particular feud occurring now has been going on for a long time, to which Buck replies incredulously,

"Well I should reckon!  It started thirty year ago, or som'ers along there.  There was trouble 'bout something and then a lawsuit to settle it, and the suit went agin' one of the men, and so he up and shot the man that won the suit - which he would naturally do, of course.  Anybody would".

Upon further questioning, Huck learns from Buck that pretty much no one remembers "what the row was about in the first place", since it all happened so long ago, but, be that as it may, there have been a "right smart chance of funerals" over the years.  In this year alone, one man on each side of the feud have already lost their lives, including a fourteen-year-old cousin of Buck's who had been unarmed when he was gunned down (Chapter 18).

Twain's method of presenting the concept of a feud through young Buck's eyes is startlingly effective in underscoring the ludicrousness of the whole situation.  The killing has gone on for many years, and the victims have been both young and old, yet no one even ventures to wonder why it still goes on.  Indeed, the feud is so deeply ingrained in the fabric of the involved families lives that even the most youthful members accept the matter in all its absurdity without question, and in reality cannot imagine life without it.  In his inimitable trademark style, Twain is making a clear commentary on one of society's more senseless aspects, and actually manages to be entertaining at the same time.

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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