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Social Class Distinctions In The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn

864 words - 3 pages

Mark Twain develops a social pyramid throughout the novel, including various characters. Each social class distinguishes the knowledge, the religious views, and the morality of each character.
The Grangerfords are the elite caste. They are well-educated, yet lack common sense. They are engaged in an unremitting feud of which the origins are blurred. “Well… a feud is this way: A man has a quarrel with another man, and kills him; then the other man’s brother kills him; then then other brothers, on both sides, goes for one another; then the cousins chip in--- and by and by everybody’s killed off, and there ain’t no more feud,” (Twain 107). This contrasts with his well upbringing in a “mighty nice house,” (Twain 99). Although Huck has some education, he doesn’t attain his knowledge from school. Most of his knowledge is based upon his life self-learning. He is witty and clever. When Huck stays with the Grangerfords, he forgets what he said his name is. Huck displays his cleverness by telling Buck “I bet you can’t spell my name,” (Twain 99) in order to trick Buck into reminding Huck what his name is. Members in each social class all attain some knowledge, but the knowledge that is learned and how it is applied is a reflection of each person’s social standing in this social ladder.
Religious hypocrisy is prevalent throughout this novel, especially within the upper classes. Huck describes a Sunday church service with the Shepherdsons and the Grangerfords: “The men took their guns along, so did Buck, and kept them between their knees or stood them handy against the wall,” (Twain 109). Bringing guns into a church, as they did, isn’t very pious. Mrs. Watson represents the middle class in this novel. She tries to teach Huck the importance of prayer, “[Miss Watson] told me to pray every day, and whatever I asked for I would get it,” (Twain 10). Although described as a good-hearted, Christian woman, Jim says “[Miss Watson] pecks on me all de time, en treats me pooty rough, but she alwuz said she wouldn’ sell me down to Orleans,” (Twain 43). Later, Jim describes the conversation he overheard between Miss Watson and the Widow. Miss Watson says she doesn’t want to sell Jim, but she’ll profit 800 dollars by doing so. This action contrasts from her saintly persona. These examples display how the upper classes want to be depicted by their peers as fully immersed in their religion, yet their actions show how detached their religion is from their mind. Despite Miss Watson’s...

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