Realism and Naturalism in American Literature

Good Essays
Katelynn Craig
English 3883
Dr. Charles DeShong
15 March 2013
Realism in Huckleberry Finn Between the end of the civil war in 1865 to about 1910, two styles of literature dominated American literature: realism and naturalism. Realism presents the world as it really is. One of the well known writers of realism, William Dean Howell’s, wrote “realism in nothing more and nothing less than the truthful treatment of material.” Realism in literature tends to be the plain and direct account of whatever is being written about. Writers of realism fill their work with facts to complement the readers’ feelings of the fact that these things can happen in their everyday lives. Realists are sure to write about normal, everyday people, living normal lives and dealing with the everyday challenges and hardships in the towns in which they live. Mark Twain uses his novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, as a showcase for one of the most referred to realistic pieces of the time period. Though the characters and events in the novel are made up, they depict a real image of the time period and those that lived during it. Through humor and satire, he presents the story of a wrongful society and flaws in human nature through the eyes of a young boy. Mark Twain had immense influence during the period of realism. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn shows ample examples of Twain’s own life and of the social issues during the time. Twain’s incorporation of accurate setting, emotion, morals and journey of the main character are the main details in his presentation of realism. Huck Finn is a young boy that struggles with an abusive father, a time when slavery was prominent, and his own maturity. Twain tells the story in a first person point of view that allows the reader to feel as if Huck is sitting there himself retelling the story. The attitudes of the characters in the book are relatable. Huck and Tom are portrayed as normal, devious, teenage boys that still struggle with making



References: Baym, Nina, and Robert S. Levine. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 8th ed. Vol. C. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2012. 130-317. Print.

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