Across the horizon: the rising sun and endless possibilities

Home - Studyworld Studynotes - Quotes - Reports & Essays 






Oakwood Publishing Company:


Study Material






Creative Writing


Social Issues

Music and Art
Reports & Essays: Literature - Novels


Intolerance in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The entire plot of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is rooted on intolerance between different social groups. Without prejudice and intolerance The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn would not have any of the antagonism or intercourse that makes the recital interesting. The prejudice and intolerance found in the book are the characteristics that make The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn a great American Classic. The author of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is Samuel Langhorn, who is more commonly known by his pen name, Mark Twain. He was born in 1835 with the passing of Haley's comet, and died in 1910 with the passing of Haley's comet. Twain often used prejudice as a building block for the plots of his stories. Twain even said, "The very ink in which history is written is merely fluid prejudice." There are many other instances in which Twain uses prejudice as a foundation for the entertainment of his writings. Even in the opening paragraph of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Twain states, "Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot." There were many groups that Twain contrasted in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The interaction of these different social groups is what makes up the main plot of the novel. For the objective of discussion they have been broken down into five main sets of antithetic parties: people with high levels of melanin and people with low levels of melanin, rednecks and scholarly, children and adults, men and women, and finally, the Sheperdson's and the Grangerford's. Whites and African Americans are the main two groups contrasted in the novel. Throughout the novel Twain portrays Caucasians as a more educated group that is higher in society compared to the African Americans portrayed in the novel. The cardinal way that Twain portrays African Americans as obsequious is through the colloquy that he assigns them. Their dialogue is composed of nothing but broken English. One example in the novel is this excerpt from the conversation between Jim the fugitive slave, and Huckleberry about why Jim ran away, where Jim declares, "Well you see, it 'uz dis way. Ole missus-dat's Miss Watson-she pecks on me all de time, en treats me pooty rough, but she awluz said she woudn' sell me down to Orleans." Although this is the phonetic spelling of how some African Americans from the boondocks used to talk, Twain only applied the argot to Blacks and not to Whites throughout the novel. There is not one sentence in the treatise spoken by an African Americ! an that is not comprised of broken English. In spite of that, the broken English does add an entraining piece of culture to the milieu. The second way Twain differentiates people in the novel of different skin color is that all Blacks in the book are portrayed as stupid and uneducated. The most blatant example is where the African American character Jim is kept prisoner for weeks while he is a dupe in a childish game that Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn play with him. Twain spends the last three chapters in the novel to tell the tale of how Tom Sawyer maliciously lets Jim, who known only unto Tom is really a free man, be kept prisoner in a shack while Tom torments Jim with musings about freedom and infests his living space with rats, snakes, and spiders. At the end of this charade Tom even admits, "Why, I wanted the adventure of it^" The next two groups Twain contrasts are the rednecks and the scholarly. In the novel Twain uses interaction between backwoods and more highly educated people as a vital part of the plot. The main usage of this mixing of two social groups is seen in the development of the two very entertaining characters simply called the duke and the king. These two characters are rednecks who pretend to be of a more scholarly background to cozen naive people along the banks of the Mississippi. In one instance the king and the duke fail miserably in trying to act more studiously when they perform a "Shakespearean Revival." The duke slaughters the lines of Hamlet saying, "To be, or not to be; that is the bare bodkin. That it makes calamity of so long life. For who fardel bear, till Birnam Wood do come to Dunshire, but that fear of something after death." Another contrast made by Twain is that of adults and children. Twain portrays adults as the conventional group in society, and children as the unconventional. In the story adults are not portrayed with much bias, but children are portrayed as more imaginative. The two main examples of this are when Huckleberry fakes his death, and when Tom and Huck "help" Jim escape from captivity. This extra imaginative aspect Twain gives to the children of the story adds much humor to the plot. Also in the novel Twain contrasts women and men. Women in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are portrayed as frail, while men are portrayed as more outgoing. The foremost example of a frail woman character in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is Tom Sawyer's Aunt Sally. One example was when Tom and Huck were collecting wildlife to live in the shack that Jim is being held prisoner in they accidentally let loose some snakes in Aunt Sally's house and Aunt Sally, "^would just lay that work down, and light out." The main reason that Twain portrays women as less outgoing, is that there are only four minor women characters in the novel, while all major characters are men. Twain's final contrast is between two families engaged in a feud. The names of the two families are the Sheperdson's and the Grangerford's. The ironic thing is that, other than their names, the two factions are totally similar. They even attend the same church. This intolerance augments a major part to the plot because it serves as the basis for one of the escapades Huck and Jim become involved in on their trip down the Mississippi. The entire plot of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is rooted on the theme intolerance between different social groups. Without prejudice and intolerance The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn would not have any of the antagonism and intercourse that makes the recital interesting.

"For complete summary and analysis of literary works, please visit


Teacher Ratings: See what

others think

of your teachers

Copy Right