Why does Mark Twain use a thirteen-year-old boy as the narrator of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?

Mark Twain uses a thirteen-year-old boy as the narrator of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn because Huck Finn has the perfect combination of innocence and shrewdness in observing and commenting on the behavior of adults, many of whom are foolish, wicked, or both. As a child, Huck is unable to change the conduct of the adults and can only provide a sardonic commentary for the reader, which is all the sharper for Huck's lack of power.

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Mark Twain had already used Huckleberry Finn as a character in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which is a children's book narrated by an omniscient adult. It is an interesting choice, therefore, to have The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn , a much more ambitious novel for people of all...

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Mark Twain had already used Huckleberry Finn as a character in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which is a children's book narrated by an omniscient adult. It is an interesting choice, therefore, to have The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a much more ambitious novel for people of all ages, narrated by a child.

Huck's perspective, however, is a wide-ranging one. He is innocent, and ignorant, but not stupid. He provides a foil for Jim, who is generally wiser and more sensible but less educated, just as Huck himself was a foil for Tom in the earlier book. However, his own lack of book-learning soon becomes apparent to the reader in his naïve explanations.

Huck's age allows for a combination of innocence and shrewdness which allows the author to move quickly from comedy to something much more sinister. He is impressed by Emmeline Grangerford's terrible poetry and, indeed, by the polish and elegance of the Grangerford family in general. However, he can also see quite clearly the absurdity and evil of their bloodthirsty feud with the Shepherdsons.

Immediately after this episode, Huck and Jim are joined on the river by the Duke and the King. While Jim is taken in by these two, Huck has seen enough of adult hypocrisy to spot them as frauds easily enough. However, he pretends to believe them, and the four travel together for some time. Huck's behavior here might seem cowardly in an adult, but he has never had any alternative except to accommodate himself to the wickedness and folly of the adult world. All he can do is to comment sardonically on what he sees for the benefit of the reader.

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One of the reasons that Mark Twain used Huckleberry Finn, a 13-year old boy, as the narrator of his story might be that Huck has a lack of knowledge about the world that an adult would have. He also has to fight against people who want what they believe is best for him; as an adult, he'd have the opportunity to leave and live the way he wants.

When Twain chose to write about a child, he chose a different set of problems and perspectives than he'd have written about otherwise. Adults also usually have some kind of connections that keep them tied to a family or a town. They have responsibilities. Huck doesn't and he's able to choose how he wants to live and leave with Jim.

Another reason that Twain chose to write about a 13-year old boy is that Huckleberry Finn was based on a real boy who he says was named Finn. Since the character is based on a real person, it would make sense for the age to be close to that person's age as well. When he speaks of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, Twain says, "I rather enjoyed writing them. The characters were no creations of my own. I simply sketched them from life. I knew both those boys so well that it was easy to write what they did and said. I've a sort of fondness for 'em anyway."

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Mark Twain chose to use Huck as the first-person narrator for several reasons in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Huck is a thirteen-year-old boy who grows up in a small town along the Mississippi River and becomes friends with a runaway slave when they both escape St. Petersburg, Missouri for different reasons. Although Huck is independent and self-sufficient, he is rather naive and is influenced by those around him. Huck's voice throughout the novel depicts his innocence and honesty, which gives the reader an insightful view of the South through a young boy's perspective. Through Huck's narration, Twain is able to develop characters and set a tone throughout the story. The reader also gains perspective into Huck's beliefs and values, which illuminate his pure heart and naive character. Throughout the novel, Twain depicts how many of society's laws and regulations are essentially senseless and corrupt. Although Huck is relatively uneducated and naive, he is able to see the obvious flaws in society and decides to follow his conscience. Using Huck as the narrator, Twain is able to cleverly critique and satirize the population of the South and its institutions.

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Authors of works of fiction frequently use a character in their story as the narrator.  Narration helps the reader to fill in gaps in the story that might otherwise leave the reader with many questions regarding motives and thoughts about situations and other characters.  Especially in a story wherein the main characters, Huck and Jim, are in a remote or isolated setting, for example, a raft going down a river, first-person narration is a natural method of describing the action and the character's observations.  First-person narration also has the benefit of allowing the author to employ dialects, slang, accents, et cetera, in a more personal manner than when used in third-person descriptions.

Twain did not have to use first-person narration in his story.  That he chose to do so was consistent with his writing style and the way he liked to tell stories.

 

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