Through its contrasting river and shore scenes, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn suggests that to find the true expression of American democratic ideals, one must leave “civilized” society and go back to nature. Twain expresses his opinions to the public through the innocent and naïve eyes of a fourteen year old boy. He not only uses Huckleberry to convey his thoughts but also uses the Mississippi River as the grand symbolic representation of nature and freedom.
Twain criticized the contradiction that was present in Southern society. The ongoing feud occurring between the two families, Grangerfords and the Shepherdson’s illustrates this successfully. The families attend church every Sunday and listen to the service which is all about brotherly love. After this they go and begin shooting in the woods and killing one another. Furthermore the feud observes human’s barbaric nature and accepts it as the correct way to live. The ignorance and hypocrisy of Southern folk and civilization is heavily criticized as the families are not able to remember the actual reason that they are fighting. When Buck was questioned by Huck about the reason behind the feud, he replied “Oh, yes, pa knows, I reckon, and some of the other old folks; but they don’t know, now, what the row was about in the first place.” (page 168). Buck is clearly clueless as to the reason, but nonetheless continues fighting. This highlights how people in society simply accept the ideas and way of life that the society imposes upon them without any questions or second thought. Such conformity flies against the grain of Twain’s beliefs as they do Huck’s.
Different personas are another aspect about shore life that Twain has explored in the novel. Huckleberry Finn assumes the role of multiple different personas. At one point when he was onshore he pretends to be a boy who hates niggers, but in reality he is saving and protecting one. Huck was once questioned regarding a nigger who had just escaped. He’s response...
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