Why does Mark Twain use a thirteen-year-old boy as the narrator of the novel?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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