The Literature of Realism with Huckleberry Finn as Exampe May 14, 2013 Outline • General knowledge of realism: time span, historical background, features and representative writers • Mark Twain (1835 – 1910) as a representative • Life and works of Twain • The Time Span • The period covers the time from the end of the Civil War to the beginning of World War I. • During this time, artists contributed to the idea of realism in the American setting. Each, though slightly different in concept or subject, was defining what was going on in front of his or her eyes, without imagining a past or a future. Social Background • 1. Industrialization wins over agrarianism with the end of the Civil War, and the resultant development of industry makes it possible that machines win over human beings. • 2. The population of the urban increases and the resenmtment pervades. The growth of business and industry widens the gap between the rich and the poor. • 3. Americans become opener to the outside world as a result of more convenient transportation and communication. American communication with Europeans are greated promoted. • 4. Westward movement of the frontier helps facilitate the pioneering spirit of exploration. • 5. A continuous wave of European immigrants and the rising potential for international trade brought prosperity to America. Cultural and Literary Expressions • 1. Economic prosperity brought about worship of materialism. The Emersonian self-reliance evolved into admiration for driving ambition, a lust for money and power. • 2. The romantic desire of “moving to the west”, or “moving to California” is called to a stop with the American power extended to the western coast of the continent. The values emboided in the idealized American dream became objectified and concreted into the confrontation with reality. Disillusionment and frustration were prevalent. The change in the Literary Circle • By the 1870s, the age of romanticism and transcendentalism was over with the death of Hawthorne and Thoreau, and the declination of Emerson, Longfellow and Melville. • Younger writers fought to the stage, with William Dean Howells, henry James, Mark Twain, Bret Harte, Stephen Crane and Edward Eggleston. Major Ideas • 1. Writers sought to portray American life as it realy was, insisting that the ordinary and the local were as suitable for artistic portrayal as the magnificant and the remote. • 2. The representation of life was considered the primary object of the novel. An objective and realistic reflection of human existence was advocated rather than the idealized view as advocated by romanticism and sentimentalism. • 3. The style is characteristic of the combination of the gentle and graceful prose and the vernacular diciton and rough frontier humor. • 4. Characterization also witnessed typical shift from “flat characters” to “round characters”. Writers sought to describe the wide range of American experience and to present the subtleties of human personalities, to portray characters who were not simply all good or bad. From Realism to Naturalism • In the 1890s, Howells spoke against the description of bleak fiction of failure and despair, and advocated the writing of the “smiling aspects of life”, since he believed that America was a land of hope and possibility. • But the turn of the century just witnessed a generation of writers whose understanding of lack of orders, beliefs and values helped facilitated the growth of naturalism. • Naturalists dismissed the validity of values and truths and attempted to present the extreme objectivity and frankness of life. They described people from lower classes dominated by their environment. In-group Variations • Although Howells, James and Twain all worked for realism, there were obvious differences between them. • In thematic terms, James wrote mostly of the upper reaches of American society; Howells concerned himself chiefly with middle class life; Mark Twain dealt largely with the lower strata of society. • Technically, Howells wrote in the vein of genteel realism, James pursued an “imaginative” treatment of reality or psychological realism, but Mark Twain’s contribution to the development of realism and to American literature as a whole was partly through his theories of localism in American fiction, and partly through his colloquial style. Mark Twain --- his life • Mark Twain, pseudonym of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, was brought up in the small town of Hannibal, Missouri, on the Mississippi River. • He was twelve when his father died and he had to leave school. He was successively a printer’s apprentice, a tramp printer, a silver miner, a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi, and a frontier journalist in Nevada and California. • With the publication of his frontier tale, “The celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”, Twain became nationally famous. • His first novel, The Gilded Age written in collaboration with Charles Dudley Warner, was not successful, but it gave its name to the America of the post-bellum period which it attempts to satirize. Representative of Local Colorism Local colorism: It is a type of writing that was popular in the late 19th century, particularly among authors in the American South of the particular region in which the story took place. Local color fiction “exploits the speech, dress, mannerisms, habits of thought which are peculiar to a certain region. Local color writing exists primarily for the portrayal of the people and life of a geographical setting” (Holman 295). Local colorism is the detailed representation in prose fiction of the setting, dialect, customs, dress and ways of thinking and feeling which are distinctive of a particular region. Local colorists: Mark Twain, Bret Harte, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Willa Cather, John Steinbeck and William Faulkner. Major Works • The Adventure of Tom Sawyer was an immediate success as “a boy’s book”. • Its sequel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn became his masterpiece, the one book from which, as Ernest Hemingway noted, “all modern American literature comes.” • Life on the Mississippi is another masterpiece, autobiographical in traditional sense. • In his later works the change from an optimist and humorist to an almost despairing determinist is unmistakable. Some critics link this change with the tragic events of his later life, the failure of his investments, his fatiguing travels and lectures in order to pay off his debts, and added to this, the death of his wife and two daughters which left him absolutely inconsolable. List of works • The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County (1865)《卡拉维拉斯县 驰名的跳蛙》 • Innocents Abroad (1869) 《傻子出国记》 • Roughing It (1872) 《艰难岁月》 • The Gilded Age (with Charles Dudley waenner, 1873) 《镀金时代》 • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876)《汤姆·索耶历险记》 • The Prince and the Pauper (1882) 《王子与贫民》 • Life on the Mississippi (1883) 《密西西比河上的生活》 • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) 《哈克贝利·费恩历险记》 • The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894) 《傻瓜威尔逊》 • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889) 《亚瑟王朝廷里的康涅 狄格州美国佬》 • The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg (1900) 《败坏了哈德莱堡的人》 • What Is Man? (1906) 《人是什么》 • The Mysterious Stranger (1916) 《神秘的陌生人》 • Following the Equator (1897) 《赤道旅行记》 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn • Theme: humanism will finally win • The novel used vivid details from actual life successfully. • Special point of view: serious social problems discussed through the narration of a little illiterate boy • Features of the language used in the novel: mostly Anglo-Saxon in origin, short, concrete and direct in effect; sentence structure is mostly simple or compound; repetition of words; ungrammatical elements • Colloquial style: a very important contribution of this novel to American literature • Mark Twain made the colloquial speech an accepted, respectable literary medium in the literary history of America. Twain’s Influence in History of Literature • One of Mark Twain’s significant contributions to American literature lies in the fact that he made colloquial speech an accepted, respectable literary medium in the literary history of the country. Its influence is clearly visible in twentiethcentury American literature. • Sherwood Anderson was the first writer after Twain to take the vernacular as a serious way of presenting reality. Ernest Hemingway was the direct descendant of Mark Twain. • William Faulkner declared, “In my opinion, Mark Twain was the first truly American writer, and all of us since are his heirs, who descended from him.” • J. D. Salinger, E. A. Robinson, Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, William Carlos Williams, E. E. Cummings, and even T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound were all influenced by him. • Mark Twain was a social critic as well. The Story(1884) • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is often considered Twain's greatest masterpiece. Combining his raw humor and startlingly mature material, Twain developed a novel that directly attacked many of the traditions the South held dear at the time of its publication. Huckleberry Finn is the main character, and through his eyes, the reader sees and judges the South, its faults, and its redeeming qualities. Huck's companion Jim, a runaway slave, provides friendship and protection while the two journey along the Mississippi on their raft. • The novel opens with Huck telling his story. Briefly, he describes what he has experienced since, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which preceded this novel. After Huck and Tom discovered twelve thousand dollars in treasure, Judge Thatcher invested the money for them. Huck was adopted by the Widow Douglas and Miss Watson, both of whom took pains to raise him properly. Dissatisfied with his new life, and wishing for the simplicity he used to know, Huck runs away. Tom Sawyer searches him out and convinces him to return home by promising to start a band of robbers. All the local young boys join Tom's band, using a hidden cave for their hideout and meeting place. However, many • YOU don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth. That is nothing. I never seen anybody but lied one time or another, without it was Aunt Polly, or the widow, or maybe Mary. Aunt Polly -- Tom's Aunt Polly, she is -- and Mary, and the Widow Douglas is all told about in that book, which is mostly a true book, with some stretchers, as I said before. • Now the way that the book winds up is this: Tom and me found the money that the robbers hid in the cave, and it made us rich. We got six thousand dollars apiece -- all gold. It was an awful sight of money when it was piled up. Well, Judge Thatcher he took it and put it out at interest, and it fetched us a dollar a day apiece all the year round -- more than a body could tell what to do with. The Widow Douglas she took me for her son, and allowed she would sivilize me; but it was rough living in the house all the time, considering how dismal regular and decent the widow was in all her ways; and so when I couldn't stand it no longer I lit out. I got into my old rags and my sugar-hogshead again, and was free and satisfied. But Tom Sawyer he hunted me up and said he was going to start a band of robbers, and I might join if I would go back to the widow and be respectable. So I went back. • The widow she cried over me, and called me a poor lost lamb, and she called me a lot of other names, too, but she never meant no harm by it. She put me in them new clothes again, and I couldn't do nothing but sweat and sweat, and feel all cramped up. Well, then, the old thing commenced again. The widow rung a bell for supper, and you had to come to time. When you got to the table you couldn't go right to eating, but you had to wait for the widow to tuck down her head and grumble a little over the victuals, though there warn't really anything the matter with them, - that is, nothing only everything was cooked by itself. In a barrel of odds and ends it is different; things get mixed up, and the juice kind of swaps around, and the things go better. • Pretty soon I wanted to smoke, and asked the widow to let me. But she wouldn't. She said it was a mean practice and wasn't clean, and I must try to not do it any more. That is just the way with some people. They get down on a thing when they don't know nothing about it. Here she was a-bothering about Moses, which was no kin to her, and no use to anybody, being gone, you see, yet finding a power of fault with me for doing a thing that had some good in it. And she took snuff, too; of course that was all right, because she done it herself. Characterization in Huck Finn • Huck Finn • A boy coming from the lowest levels of white society: His father is a drunk and a ruffian who disappears for months on end. Huck himself is dirty and frequently homeless. • Little education: Although the Widow Douglas attempts to “reform” Huck, he resists her attempts and maintains his independent ways. Though the Widow finally gives Huck some of the schooling and religious training that he had missed, he has not been indoctrinated with social values. • Skepticism about the society: Huck's distance from mainstream society makes him skeptical of the world around him and the ideas it passes on to him. • Rebels of social rules: Because of his background, however, he does more than just apply the rules that he has been taught—he creates his own rules. For instance, in his treatment of Jim. According to the law, Jim is Miss Watson's property, but according to Huck's sense of logic and fairness, it seems “right” to help Jim. • Travel as a process of learning and selfunderstanding: As he travels down the river Huck's instinctual distrust and his experiences force him to question the things society has taught him. Huck's natural intelligence and his willingness to think through a situation on its own merits lead him to some conclusions that are correct in their context but that would shock white society. For example, Huck discovers, when he and Jim meet a group of slave-hunters, that telling a lie is sometimes the right course of Humanity in Huck. Imperfect as he is, he represents what anyone is capable of becoming: a thinking, feeling human being rather than a mere cog in the machine of society. • Pursuit or exploration of identity: Huck definitely struggles with his own sense of identity. In the beginning of the novel, he oscillates between his comfort living in the woods and his realization that, actually, gettin’ civilized ain’t so bad. He seems to make his living on the river out of pretending to be other people, and he certainly displays a penchant for telling lies all the time. • He constantly refers to Tom Sawyer as his foil while he’s on his journey; he repeatedly expresses a desire to be like Tom, wonders how Tom would act, hopes he’s doing as good of a job as Tom would, etc. • In the end, he is acting upon his own choice, presumably quite different from that of Tom. • Defiance against the authority: Huckleberry Finn tells the story in first-person point of view. His narration, including his accounts of conversations, contains regionalisms, grammatical errors, pronunciation errors, and other characteristics of the speech or writing of a nineteenth-century Missouri boy with limited education. • In the form of language: The use of patois bolsters the verisimilitude of the novel. • As an “bad” boy in contrast to model boy: With his many bad habits, Huck lies, cheats, steals, and defrauds his way down the river. These traits are part of the reason that Huck Finn was viewed as a book not acceptable for children. Jim • Huck's companion and surrogate father: Jim is a man of remarkable intelligence and compassion, as discovered by Huck in their journey down the river. He taks care of Huck and shelters him from some of the worst horrors that they encounter, including the sight of Pap's corpse. At first glance, Jim seems to be superstitious to the point of idiocy, but a careful reading reveals that Jim's superstitions conceal a deep knowledge of the natural world and represent an alternate form of “truth” or intelligence. • Humanity in Jim (from the point of the white): Moreover, Jim has one of the few healthy, functioning families in the novel. Although he has been separated from his wife and children, he misses them terribly, and it is only the thought of a permanent separation from them that motivates his criminal act of running away from Miss Watson. Tom Sawyer In comparison with Huck who lives in poverty and on the margins of society, Tom has been raised in relative comfort. As a result, his beliefs are an unfortunate combination of what he has learned from the adults around him and the fanciful notions he has gleaned from reading romance and adventure novels. Tom embodies what a young, well-to-do white man is raised to become in the society of his time: self-centered with dominion over all. • Tom believes in sticking strictly to “rules,” most of which have more to do with style than with morality or anyone's welfare. Tom is thus the perfect foil for Huck: his rigid adherence to rules and precepts contrasts with Huck's tendency to question authority and think for himself. • Although Tom's escapades are often funny, they also show just how disturbingly and unthinkingly cruel society can be. Tom knows all along that Miss Watson has died and that Jim is now a free man, yet he is willing to allow Jim to remain a captive while he entertains himself with fantastic escape plans. Tom's plotting tortures not only Jim, but Aunt Sally and Uncle Silas as well. Meanwhile, Huck’s conscience troubles him deeply about helping Jim escape from his “rightful owner,” Miss Watson, especially after all she has done for Huck. Jim talks on and on about going to the free states, especially about his plan to earn money to buy the freedom of his wife and children. If their masters refuse to give up Jim’s family, Jim plans to have some abolitionists kidnap them. When Huck and Jim think they see Cairo, Huck goes out on the canoe to check, having secretly resolved to give Jim up. But Huck’s heart softens when he hears Jim call out that Huck is his only friend, the only one to keep a promise to him. • It most froze me to hear such talk. He wouldn't ever dared to talk such talk in his life before. Just see what a difference it made in him the minute he judged he was about free. It was according to the old saying, "Give a nigger an inch and he'll take an ell." Thinks I, this is what comes of my not thinking. Here was this nigger, which I had as good as helped to run away, coming right out flat-footed and saying he would steal his children -- children that belonged to a man I didn't even know; a man that hadn't ever done me no harm. • I was sorry to hear Jim say that, it was such a lowering of him. My conscience got to stirring me up hotter than ever, until at last I says to it, "Let up on me -- it ain't too late yet -- I'll paddle ashore at the first light and tell." I felt easy and happy and light as a feather right off. All my troubles was gone. I went to looking out sharp for a light, and sort of singing to myself. By and by one showed. Jim sings out: • "We's safe, Huck, we's safe! Jump up and crack yo' heels! Dat's de good ole Cairo at las', I jis knows it!" Morality in perspectives • Throughout the story, Huck is in moral conflict with the received values of the society in which he lives, and while he is unable to consciously refute those values even in his thoughts, he makes a moral choice based on his own valuation of Jim's friendship and human worth, a decision in direct opposition to the things he has been taught. • Mark Twain in his lecture notes proposes that "a sound heart is a surer guide than an ill-trained conscience", and goes on to describe the novel as "...a book of mine where a sound heart and a deformed conscience come into collision and conscience suffers defeat". Racism involved in the novel • Much modern scholarship of Huckleberry Finn has focused on its treatment of race. Many Twain scholars have argued that the book, by humanizing Jim and exposing the fallacies of the racist assumptions of slavery, is an attack on racism. Others have argued that the book falls short on this score, especially in its depiction of Jim. According to Professor Stephen Railton of the University of Virginia, Twain was unable to fully rise above the stereotypes of black people that white readers of his era expected and enjoyed, and therefore resorted to minstrel show-style comedy to provide humor at Jim's expense, and ended up confirming rather than challenging late-19th century racist stereotypes. • In one instance, the controversy caused a drastically altered interpretation of the text: In 1955, CBS tried to avoid controversial material in a televised version of the book, by deleting all mention of slavery and having a white actor play Jim. • Another example involves the disputes on the appropriateness of teaching the book in the U.S. public school system—this questioning of the word “nigger” is illustrated by a school administrator of Virginia in 1982 calling the novel the "most grotesque example of racism I’ve ever seen in my life". According to the American Library Association, Huckleberry Finn was the fifth most-frequently-challenged book in the United States during the 1990s. Historical Background • By the time that Mark Twain completed The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the U.S. Congress had amended the Constitution to do the following: • Abolish slavery (Thirteenth Amendment, 1865), • Guarantee citizenship rights to every person born in the U.S. (Fourteenth Amendment, 1868) • Grant all citizens the right to vote regardless of "race, color, or previous condition of servitude" (Fifteenth Amendment, 1870). • However, beginning in 1877, some state legislatures began passing segregation laws that limited or denied blacks access to whitecontrolled schools, restaurants, restrooms, cemeteries, theaters, parks, and other facilities. Consequently, Twain's theme of racism in Huckleberry Finn remained current when the book was published. It remains current today because, even though segregation laws have been struck down, racism persists as a serious problem.