In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain presents the protagonist as a down to earth and skeptical boy. Through Huck Finn’s demeanor towards various ideas, Mark Twain satirizes a large spectrum of beliefs that are prevalent in society. Twain routinely mocks religion and Huck Finn’s disposition to religion allows Twain to present his personal views. Mark Twain illustrates the disastrous effects of accepting society’s ideas without question and he humorously mocks society as a whole.
The most prominent satirical target in the novel is the silliness and hypocrisy of religion. Huck Finn has to endure lessons from Miss Watson about Christianity and religion but he finds it tedious because he doesn’t understand many of the concepts that he’s learning. Through Huck’s incapability to accept these religious beliefs, Mark Twain satirizes the concept of heaven and hell. “Then she told me all about the bad place, and I said I wished I was there.
She got mad then, but I didn’t mean no harm. All I wanted was to go somewhere; all I wanted was a change, I warn’t particular. She said it was wicked to say what I said; said she wouldn’t say it for the whole world; she was going to live so as to go to the good place. Well, I couldn’t see no advantage in going where she was going, so I made up my mind I wouldn’t try for it.” (Twain 132). Mark Twain continues to mock the silliness religion and society through Tom Sawyer’s gang and praying.
Although the children are pretending, they act as robbers and killers and they put some thought into planning their actions. Twain notably makes fun of religious Sundays, effectively presenting societal beliefs as absurd. “Ben Rogers said he couldn’t get out much, only Sundays, and so he wanted to begin next Sunday, but all the boys said it would be wicked to do it on Sunday” (Twain 137).
The children are representative of much of society; they blindly follow the Christian faith and act virtuous only on Sundays due to some makeshift rules, but they are liable to sinning every day other than Sunday, which many people do. Nonetheless, Huck continues his religious lessons and Miss Watson tries to teach him about prayer. “Then Miss Watson she took me in the closet and prayed, but nothing came of it. She told me to pray every day, and whatever I asked for I would get it” (Twain 137).
Twain makes fun of the folly of prayer with Huck’s genuine confusion, “I sat down, one time, back in the woods, and had a long think about it. I says to myself, if a body can get anything they pray for, why don’t Deacon Winn get back the money he lost on pork?” (Twain 137). Huck used a small portion of time to actually think about prayer and he finds that it is utterly useless. Through the character of Huck Finn, Mark Twain establishes the beliefs of Christianity as ridiculous and somewhat foolish.
Mark Twain also satirizes the general society’s conformity; which people are willing to accept without a second thought. This idea occurs throughout the entire story, but more notably as Huck meets the Grangerfords and the duke and dauphin. The Grangerfords and Shepherdsons are both high class aristocratic families, but they’re involved in a family feud.
Huck has a conversation with Buck about the feud, but Buck doesn’t actually know when the feud started or why they’re actually fighting each other. Twain is satirizing the families that have kept fighting for years on end, only fighting for the sake of the feud and nothing else. Both the Grangerfords and the Shepherdsons conform to the idea that they have to be in a feud, and this foolhardiness results in deaths in both families.
Twain humorously makes fun of society for accepting ideas just for the sake of fitting in or hearing what they want to hear. Religion also ties into conformity and the characters are eager and willing to accept most ideas that are thrown at them. To any mild skeptic, many of these beliefs and ideas in the story would be suspicious and it shows that many people do not think about their beliefs before adopting them.
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