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In his Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain

In his Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain makes the most extensive possible use of dialect. Every word of the novel is narrated by Huck himself and every character he meets on his travels speaks in some type of regional accent, which Huck reproduces to the best of his ability. Twain employed dialects in the novel for several purposes but his three principal aims were to create a sense of authenticity, to develop a comedy of language, and to demonstrate the power of a natural spirit like Huck's to mature emotionally and to develop great artistic gifts as a narrator outside the confines of conditions society usually regards as essential to such growth.

Twain establishes the tone of the book in his two preliminary notes from the author. The first humorously warns the reader against any attempt to locate motive, moral, or plot in the narrative. The second, more seriously, advises the reader that the dialects in the book "have not been done in a haphazard fashion, or by guess-work; but pains-takingly" on the basis of his familiarity with the varieties of speech he employs (620). But this author disappears as soon as the book begins. Huck starts by addressing the audience directly, "You don't know about me, without you have read a book by the name of 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,' but that ain't no matter," and he allows that while Twain's book was mostly truthful it did contain some "stretchers" (623). Thus, despite his poor grammar and colloquialisms Huck immediately invokes a sophisticated method of assuring the reader of his own reliability as a narrator. And throughout the novel Huck's speech and his recounting of his own errors of comprehension (of which he often remains unaware) constantly reinforces his authority. The genuine voice of a participant in the action also provides the reader with a strong sense of being present as events take place--even though Huck clearly narrates after the events have concluded.

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In his Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 17:17, October 01, 2020, from