Satire and Irony of Huckleberry Finn

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Twain uses Pap, an unethical, abusive, drunken father, in order to expose racism and ignorance in Southern white society so that the audience will understand Twains’ position on these issues. During Pap’s rant about the government, he tells of a freed African American that came into town and, “had the whitest shirt on…and the shiniest hat [too]…he was a p’fessor in a college…and he could vote” (29). Pap shows his contempt towards the fact that an African American is better dressed and better educated than himself. I believe that Twain emphasizes racism in the excerpt to show its crudeness brought on by the people in Southern white society, and is trying to open the eyes of the people to what is really happening, or what he thinks is happening. In using Pap to project this ideology, satirical irony is prominent in the fact that Pap, himself, represents the lowest class in society. Furthermore, after Pap describes his pushing the free black man off the sidewalk, he states, “I says to the people, why ain’t this nigger put up at auction and sold? – that’s what I want to know” (29). Pap exhibits animosity for the rights that the black man possesses. Twain attempts to attack the idea that white people deserve more rights than the blacks, and that an African American man has no rights to education or wealth. In extension, the satirical irony of Pap asking the question “why ain’t this nigger put up in an auction and sold,” is that Pap himself is in more of the position of the stereotypical black man than the young gent he speaks of. Twain displays, in another instance, the ignorance of Pap throughout his harangue on the government, in which he states, “The law takes a man worth six thousand dollars and upwards…and jams him into an old trap of a cabin…in clothes that ain’t fitten for a hog” (28). Pap is perturbed by idea that the government isn’t treating him as, he thinks, they should, but instead leaving him with the bare necessities. It is in my opinion that Twain...
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