How does Mark Twain portray small-town life in "The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn"?

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engtchr5 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mark Twain's portrayal of small-town life is especially accurate for this time period. As he leads us to conclude that the lifestyle of this era and place was rustic, charming, and close-knit. When something happens,the whole community knows about it, for instance. In addition, some characters (especially female characters), have a tendency to diagnose and critique all of the town's happenings at various points throughout the novel. Some would call it gossip, but most of their facts are pretty straight.

Twain shows us that the politics and beliefs of the setting were primarily conservative, as any "rippling of the water" is frowned upon. Beyond the big issue of Jim's slavery, the lifestyle that is portrayed is one of laid-back southern leisure, where people take care of their families, friends, and neighbors, go to church on Sundays, and live a hard-working but satisfying life.

yaday eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Specifically, Twain explores local color in the chapters that revolve around the “Arkansaw” towns.  In particular, he focuses on America’s “lowest common denominator” in the form of the loafers who chew the natural leaf tobacco.   Presented is a stark reality where lowlifes amuse themselves in various acts of degeneracy.  One in particular is the setting of the dog on fire with turpentine.  Also, Twain reveals the mentality of a small town through the incident of Boggs vs. Sherburn.  It is here Twain focuses on crowd mentality and mass appeal.  The lynch mob is portrayed as a single entity blinded by vengeance.     

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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