5* Satire is defined as the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices. In many works of literature, satire is used to portray the flaws of a society. In “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, Mark Twain uses satire to critique the antebellum South.
Mark Twain uses satire to critique the antebellum South by having Huck’s father, Pap, criticize an African American being able to vote . As Pap encounters a free black, he claims,
“They said he was a p’fessor in a college, and could talk all kinds of languages, and knowed everything. And that ain’t the wust. They said he could vote when he was at home” (35). In other words, even though the black professor is clearly academically superior to Pap, Pap still believes he is better than him merely due to their contrasting ethnicities. Twain furthermore uses Pap’s racist criticism to represent the same ignorant attitude antebellum South society has which Twain finds distasteful. Regarding Pap’s racist criticism in “A True Book With
Some Stretchers” by Charles H. Nichols, “the swaggering boasts of Pap, the town drunkard, reveal at a stroke the absurdity of his prejudices” (13). To clarify, the fact that Pap is comfortable where he stands in society is satirical as he censures someone far more intelligent than him. This example additionally symbolizes antebellum Southern society due to their prejudiced belief that they are somehow superior to blacks. As can be seen by the previous information, Mark Twain includes Pap’s rant to illustrate the absurdity how even an outcast such as constantly drunk Pap Finn can be a more respected member of society than an actual professor over something irrelevant as skin color.
Twain also employs satire when it comes to the Grangerford and Sheperdson family feud. When Huck asks about the origin of the feud, Buck replies,
“I reckon maybe— I don’t know.”
“Well, who done the shooting? Was it a Grangerford or Sheperdson?”
“Laws, how do I know? It was so long ago” (110).
This quote symbolizes the chivalry of Southern society. This is a use of satire as Twain emphasizes how absurd it is to be able to kill people with an unknown justification due to honor or chivalry. In “A True Book With Some Stretchers”, the author states how “the
Grangerford family represents the best of the Old South’s society, the world created by the image of Sir Walter Scott’s heroes” (14). This also represents chivalry as Sir Walter Scott emphasized it in his literature. Twain is satirizing the noble motives of people in the works of
Sir Walter Scott. Twain’s point in including this family feud is to accentuate the families’ religious hypocrisy considering pointless brutality is involved in their arbitrary concept