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Twain's Use of Regional Culture in Huckleberry Finn

Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is widely considered a classic of American Literature. However, for as much critical acclaim as the novel has won, it has also inspired great controversy due to Twain's unflinching portrait of the Southern hypocrisies and the institution of slavery. Still, other opponents of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn deem it racist, as Twain uses frank and realistic language which can also seem vulgar and offensive. Yet, it is the very fact that Twain imbues his novel with this sense of realism and local color that it is so effective. Indeed, the novel is a deliberate portrait of Southern life in the nineteenth century, while at the same time, an entertaining and enjoyable story of one boy's adventures. This paper will analyze the way in which Twain's use of local color, regional culture, and realism not only creates an appealing story, but also provides a thorough and realistic look at the South and the institution of slavery.

The setting in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is certainly a crucial element of the novel, and the best place to begin when analyzing Twain's use of local color and realism. The story takes place along the Mississippi Valley, starting in Missouri and journeying all the way to Louisiana. Indeed, the Mississippi Valley is "aa singular, irreplaceable setting for the story, to the extent that any conception of its events elsewhere would seem a absurd" (Jackson 49). Twain himself grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, the town that the novel's St. Petersburg is based upon, and the narrative is thus influenced greatly by his firsthand knowledge of the locale. However, by the time that Twain wrote Adventures of Huck Finn, he had lived away from Missouri for almost twenty years, and thus "ahis personal connection to the town of Hannibal, the state of Missouri, and the Mississippi River of his youth may be described as more a nostalgic" (Jackson 49).

Yet, Twain had re...

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Twain's Use of Regional Culture in Huckleberry Finn. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 20:27, August 06, 2020, from