Realism and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Notes

AP English Language and Composition
Realism: a slice of life
 Realists see life as it really is and how life truly exists.
Realistic literature is an honest and objective
representation of life. Writing in this genre is simple and
contains prose appropriate to the time period and setting.
Realists concentrate on the typical and average.
Realism is a response to Romanticism (Romantic writers
focused on the imagination; Realists focused on daily life).
America was changing from a rural agrarian nation to one
with growing urban centers.
Realism emerged because of the Nation’s disillusionment
following the Civil War.
 After the Civil War ended, writers focus on local
customs and local cultures throughout the United
Focus on ordinary people and events; little plot or
Dialect – a variation of language spoken within a
particular region or class.
Local Color – The portrayal of a region’s distinctive
ways of talking and behaving
Mood – the emotional quality of literary work created
by language, setting, and tone
Satire - literary composition, in verse or prose,
in which human folly and vice are held up to
scorn, sarcasm, or ridicule.
About the author and novel…
 Born Samuel Langhorne Clemens on November 30,
1835 in Florida, Missouri.
Pen name “Mark Twain” was inspired by a riverboat
term “mark twain” which signals depth and the point
where the boat could drift on its own current
Before being a writer he was a riverboat pilot, a printer,
and a hopeful gold miner
Married Olivia Langdon in 1870.
Most famous novel is Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Some of his other works include: The Adventures of
Tom Sawyer, Life on the Mississippi, and Pudd’nhead
Twain and Huck
 Many of Twain’s books contain powerful social themes
challenging traditional Southern ways of thinking and
controversial language.
 Some of Twain’s books have been banned due to
 Twain published his first novel, The Adventures of Tom
Sawyer, in 1876.
 Mark Twain was 75 years old when he died on April 21,
The essence of Huck Finn
 Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published in January of
1885 and was a follow-up story to Tom Sawyer. The book
naturally divides itself into three parts (Huck in civilization
in Missouri, Huck and Jim on the river, and Huck’s return
to civilization on the farm.)
 The Concord Library Committee banned Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn in March of 1885 because of its
abolitionist tone. The book being banned may have been
the best publicity Twain could have asked for because it
focused society’s attention on the book.
 Today the book is often considered a controversial or
banned book because of the use of the “N-word” (which
appears in the book approximately 213 times).
 HF is considered an American classic and is one of the
most widely read American novels of all time. Ernest
Hemingway once said, “All modern literature comes
from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry
 The novel is a series of episodes rather than one
continuous story. The novel is a framework story – a
narrative that contains another narrative.
 After writing the first 16 chapters, Twain stopped
working on HF and even threatened to burn the
manuscript. However, over the next 7 years he often
revisited, edited, and added to the novel.
 There are shifts in tone in the novel from lighthearted
to serious to even humorous. This shift in tone is in
part what appeals to both young and old readers.
The Mississippi River
 At estimated length the river is about 2,320 miles, but it is
hard to measure exactly because the river channel is
constantly changing.
At its fastest moving part, the river has a speed surface of
about 1.2 miles per hour.
The narrowest stretch of the river is about 20 feet, but in
places it can span as wide as 4 miles.
In the shallowest place it is 3 feet deep, but at its deepest
place it is 200 feet in depth.
In terms of tonnage, the largest port in the world is located
on the Mississippi River (over 250 million tons of goods
shipped in an out of the port at New Orleans in one year).
Major Themes…
 Slavery and racism
 Contrast between civilization and the
wild (nature)
 Contrast between social norms and
honest morality (search for self)
 Friendship

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