How does Twain's use of satire add to the overall meaning of the novel? Discuss satire as it is used by Mark Twain making sure to identify what exactly Twain is satirizing as well as his larger purpose in doing so.

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One example of satire that adds to the overall meaning of this novel is Twain's satirization of religion.  He does this most obviously through his treatment of the Phelps family.

The Phelps family is quite religious, but their religious values do not extend to caring about black people.  When Huck first meets them, he makes up a story about a steamboat accident.  The Phelpses are relieved to hear that only a black person died.  Later on, they feed and pray with Jim, but still keep him imprisoned.

In this way, Twain is saying that people who professed to be religious but still kept slaves were hypocritical.  This fits in with two purposes of his:

  • Showing how society's morals are not as good as Huck's
  • Pointing out and criticizing racism.
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