How and why are Mark Twain's forms of writing and content considered to be "American"?

Expert Answers
vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mark Twain’s writing might be considered characteristically “American” in a number of ways, including the following:

  • his focus on American people, places, and other American subject-matters, as in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Gilded Age, etc., etc.
  • his tendency to look at Europe and the rest of the “old” world from a skeptically American perspective, as in such travel books as An Innocent Abroad and in such works of fiction as A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
  • his emphasis on “frontier humor,as in his famous story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” among many other works
  • his frequent tendency to use varieties of American dialect, most memorably in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • his skill in capturing the sounds of the language spoken by many African Americans of his day, such as in the following passage when Jim, in Huckleberry Finn, tells Huck how he once slapped his very young daughter because he failed to realize that she had become deaf and thus couldn’t hear his commands:

“Oh, Huck, I bust out a-cryin en grab her up in my arms, en say, ‘Oh, de po’ little thing! De Lord God Almighty fogive po’ ole Jim, kaze he never gwyne to fogive hisself as long’s he live!’ Oh, she was plumb deef en dumb, Huck, plumb deef en dumb – en I’d been a-treat’n her so!”

This is one of the most moving passages in the entire book, and the fact that Twain can create such moving speech by using such allegedly “unsophisticated” language is one of the great aspects of his genius.

  • his habit of celebrating American democratic values, American habits, and the American people, especially in contrast with the values, habits, and people of Europe (particularly the French).
  • his willingness to criticize America when he felt that it had fallen short of its own ideals or of ideal behavior in general


fifionahoilam | Student

Well, I am not quite sure what you mean by 'How and why are Mark Twain's forms of writings and contents considered to be American?'

But I will sure help you with it, I am also doing some research on Mark Twain. Here are the things I listed and I think can help you:

  • Mark Twain was an American writer/author and Humorist.
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is called the 'Great American Novel'
  • Mark Twain was lauded as the Greatest American Humorist of his age.
  • William Faulkner called Mark Twain the Father of American Literature.