Describe three instances in the book where Twain pokes fun at white, southern, civilized people. 

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price7781 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Oh gosh!  There are so many instances of Twain’s satiric voice poking fun at people who seem to be civilized but are not. It’s important to note why Twain is ridiculing the different people in the novel, and it is because they all symbolize an unattractive human characteristic.

  • Miss Watson—Miss Watson is one of the first southern white ladies Twain uses to show hypocrisy.  Miss Watson is very religious and expects Huck to convert as well, and yet, she owns Jim, a slave.  This shows, according to Twain, how hypocritical religious people can be.
  • Half the town boards a river boat to look for Huck’s body in the river.  These “looky-loos” are more interested in the death or Huck and seeing his body floating in the river than they were of Huck when he was alive.
  • The Shepardsons and the Grangerfords.  Caught in a feud that neither family can remember how it started, these southern families are more interested in honor and pride than they are in their families.  They are willing to sacrifice their own children than to end the feud.   This is seen with the death of Buck in the episode.
  • The townspeople that the King and Duke dupe are also examples of Twain poking fun at people.  The townsfolk believe that the King is a reformed pirate at the revival meeting, and the King and Duke con people out of money at the Shakespearean play of Romeo and Juliet.  The townsfolk are representative of the gullibility of people.

Here are just a few, but arguments could be made for the Wilks sisters, Aunt Polly, and other people Huck meets along the river.  All of these “gentile” southerners symbolize the characteristics of hypocrisy, gullibility, and uncivilized behavior.

Read the study guide:
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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