Twain & Finn: Breaking the
Language Barrier

Mark Twain’s use of language and dialect in the book
“Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” helped him to bring about the
overall feel that he conveyed throughout the book, allowing him to
show Huck Finn’s attitudes and beliefs concerning the nature of
education, slavery, and family values.
When the story begins, Huck is seen as a young boy who
is not very educated nor wishes to be. He does not seem to care very
much for the attention that is given to him by the Widow Douglas,
who had taken him in for her son, and her sister, Miss Watson.
Huck’s moral values were not only the product of his ignorance, but
there is relation seen between Huck’s attitude and the attitude of his
father when Huck is confronted by him. Huck’s father is disgusted at
the way that Huck seems to be becoming more and more civilized.
He states “...they say you can read and write. You think you’re
better’n your father, now, don’t you, because he can’t?” Perhaps this
statement shows disgust in Huck through not following the moral
values of his father, or perhaps this is just merely jealousy on his
father’s part. Huck’s father warns Huck about going to school any
more, yet Huck goes anyway, showing great willpower in the
character of Huck in that he was gaining an education that he never
really wanted in the first place, but soon came to realize that it was
something actually useful, and in the fact that he was disobeying his
father’s orders.
Huck’s feelings about slavery are shown when he helps
Jim, Miss Watson’s slave, to escape. Huck’s constant statement that
“Jim talks like he is white inside” shows that Huck was unique
amongst the society in which he lived in the fact that he saw beneath
the color of a person’s skin and saw the person that was truly there.
Jim seems to be the only person that Huck can trust other than Tom
Saywer, Huck’s best friend. Huck Finn felt that slavery was a cruel
injustice because he had gotten to know Jim and found out that there
was more to him than just being a slave. Huck had found that Jim
was a human being just like himself. Through these ideas, Mark
Twain subtly conveyed his own feelings about slavery that existed in
the south by using Huck as an example.
Mark Twain not only challenged the topics of education
and slavery, but he also criticized the very society in which he lived.
Social criticism appears in Twain’s picture of the feuding
Grangerfords and Shepherdsons, two families upon which Huck
stumbles while on his travels. The two families show the
foolheartedness of the pre-civil war society that existed in Twain’s
lifetime. Twain tried to convey the point that society had no need for
civil feuds such as the one illustrated, or even the American civil
war.
Through Mark Twain’s use of language, he succeeded in showing the
thoughts and beliefs of Huck Finn and the world that surrounded him. He
accomplished this by showing these beliefs through Huck’s realistic attitude,
creating the framework to tackle the then-present and controversial issues of
slavery and nationalistic values that accompanied peoples’ thoughts on the subject.
--------------------------------------------------------------