Huckleberry Finn - Life on the River

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The difference between life on the river and life in the towns along the river is an important theme in the novel ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn' by Mark Twain. Twain uses language to draw the contrast effectively as well as through the atmosphere that has been created, the diction, the punctuation and the figures of speech employed.

The two paragraphs, which most effectively display this contrast, refer to the peaceful life on the river and the vile nature of the streets and lanes of a town.

In the fist paragraph Huck describes in mostly monosyllabic and colloquial expressions how pleasant life on the river is. At the beginning of the passage Huck uses the image of swimming peacefully to describe how the time passes, ‘you might say they swum by, they slid along so quite smooth and lovely. The alliteration of swum, slid and smooth helps to formulate a mental semblance of the swift and steady motion of the river and like the rivers flowing the words also seem to easily flow. This image is appropriate as it directly relates to the motion of the river on which they are travelling.

‘Here is the way we put in the time.' Presents Huck's idyllic life on the river is as routine. The words ‘then' and ‘next' are repeated several times in the first half of the passage, their function and effect is ensure that the passage flows, much like the river, in a slow and constant sequential manner.

A sense of relaxed movement is conveyed and emphasised by diction and alliteration throughout the passage ‘then a pale place in the sky; then more paleness'. The use of onomatopoeia ‘swift' allows the passage to progress in the same continuous and serene motion as the river. The words and phrases ‘nice breeze springs up' and ‘smiling in the sun' particularly emphasise the freshness of the scene. Huck's use of personification ‘everything smiling in the sun' depicts the contentment that everything around him is experiencing as a new day begins and the sun comes out....
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