English II H – 5
7 December 2014
An Independent Man’s Attitude on Followers
“It is not best that we should all think alike; it is difference of opinion that makes horses race” (Twain, Puddn’head Wilson). To put it bluntly, Mark Twain is saying that thinking alike and, more importantly, acting alike does not do the world any justice. In Twain’s opinion, it makes men look like fools. He illustrates his attitude aimed at those “[thinking] alike” throughout his novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In his novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain uses details to compose a bitterly sarcastic tone towards men perusing others blindly.
Chapter 18 is one area of the book where Mark Twain uses details to create his bitterly sarcastic tone. His character, Huck Finn, gets separated from Jim, and spends a few days with a wealthy family, the Grangerfords. Twain has this Family feuding with a second family, the Shepardsons. After one of the younger Grangerford boys gets into a shooting spat with a Shepardson, Huck asks the boy, “‘Did you want to kill him, Buck?’ ‘Well, I bet I did.’ ‘What did he do to you?’ ‘Him? he never done nothing to me.’ ‘Well, then, what did you want to kill him for?’ ‘Why nothing – only it’s on account of the feud’” (Twain, 81). The details Twain includes construct his bitter, sarcastic tone. Buck has no personal grudge against the Shepardson boy, but enthusiastically fires at him anyway, because he’s following his family’s role in the feud. Shortly thereafter, Twain has Huck inquire about the feud’s nature and origin.
“What was the trouble about Buck? – Land?’ ‘I reckon maybe - I don’t know.’ ‘Well, who done the shooting? Was it a Grangerford or a Shepardson?’ ‘Laws, how do I know? It was so long ago.’ ‘Doesn’t anybody know?’ ‘Oh, yes, Pa knows I reckon, and some of the other old folks; but they don’t know, now, what the row was in the first place.” (Twain, 82) A lack of details in what this young man knows is how Twain builds Buck’s frame of mind. By writing him as completely clueless, Twain draws attention to Buck knowing nothing. Yet this character is written as doing what his family has always done, continuing with the feud. By Twain’s creation, Buck is an ignorant supporter. He is criticizing people who will follow a crowd, even when there is no point or reason. Twain’s details here clearly paint his bitterly sarcastic tone oriented at clueless followers. Farther on in the book, Twain again uses details to weave a bitter, sarcastic tone towards those who ignorantly follow others. Near the very end of the story, Tom and Huck have just tried to free Jim from a relative’s farm. They failed, and Jim was captured again by a group of men from the village. The men are angry, and ready to lynch Jim. However, one of them speaks up, saying that if they hang Jim, they would have to pay for him. Twain writes
But the others said, don’t do it, it wouldn’t answer at all, he ain’t our nigger, and his owner would turn up and make us pay for him, sure. So that cooled them down a little, because the people that’s always most anxious to hang a nigger that hain’t done right, is always the very ones that ain’t the most anxious to pay for him when they’ve got their satisfaction out of him (Twain, 214). Twain’s sarcastic, bitter mind frame is apparent in his…