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Book Report/Humor

1192 words - 5 pages

Exploring Humor (with emphasis on satire) Ryan Long Period 3 Humor is a very impalpable subject. This is mainly because humor can be defined by example very differently by different people. While one person may find something incredibly humorous, another may find it boring, sad, angering, or sometimes disgustingly out of place. This is what makes defining humor such a feat. Beyond defining humor, writing it is an even more daunting task. Writing humor opens the writer to criticism of their morals and beliefs by how they use humor in writing. Mark Twain?s work, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, is a prime example of criticized humor in literature. Twain is criticized for his liberal use of satire in the novel, which scrutinizes American Midwestern society in his day. He aims his satirical weapons on such things as racism, religion, and accepted social behavior. Many of Twain?s ideas may be falsely interpreted when only glimpsed upon, which is why it is important that The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn must be carefully interpreted to reveal Twain?s true satirical goals in the novel.The first page of the novel begins with Huck speaking of how the Widow Douglas has taken him in. ?The Widow Douglas, she took me for her son, and allowed she would sivilize me??(pg. 1). Page two goes on to explain how the Widow Douglas teaches Huck about Moses and the bible, however Huck is not interested after he finds Moses is no longer alive. In the following pages, Twain makes it very clear that the Widow Douglas has ?niggers? on her farm. This is one of Twain?s early satires that deal with racism and acceptable civilization. Twain uses situational irony by making the Widow believe strongly in Christianity, which preaches equality for all believers, while she suppresses blacks in her own home. In all of her teachings, the Widow neglects to ever mention equality of people to Huck. Twain?s unsparing use of racial satire shows up again on page 258. This is a conversation between Huck, who is pretending to be Tom Sawyer, and Aunt Sally. Huck is asked why he was so late arriving to the house by Sally and quickly makes up a lie about the boat blowing a cylinder. Sally asks, ?Good gracious! Anybody hurt?? ?No?m. Killed a nigger? Huck replies. To this Sally is relieved saying, ?Well, it?s lucky; because sometimes people do get hurt?(pg. 258). This is Twain?s attempt at humor by shocking the reader with situational irony. The uncaring tone of this passage is Twain?s way of showing how what were thought to be civilized people were very suppressive of blacks.The liberal use of the word ?nigger? throughout the novel and examples from above could be quickly interpreted as the racism of the author showing through in the novel. That is why satire must be carefully interpreted as to not miss the satirist?s intent. Twain?s intent was not to hold up racism but to rather condone it through his persuasive use of situational irony and the up front cold and grim tone towards blacks...

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