Mark Twain's Writing Style in "Huckleberry Finn"

by Shaunta Alburger

Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn" is one of the most studied books in America. Often starting in middle school, students study this American master's writing style as one of the early examples of purely American writing and the work of a master satirist. Twain's story "Huckelberry Finn" has been banned for his use of language and loved for that same language for generations.

Vernacular

Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn" is famous for its use of vernacular language. In fact, it has been banned in some places for Twain's use of racists terms common during the time the story takes place. He also writes using slang and articulating accents and cultural speech. This use of language is one of the most prominent aspects of Twain's writing style in this book.

Transgression

"Huckleberry Finn" tells the story of a naive, uneducated country boy who takes on racism without really understanding why or even that he's done it. It is essential to understanding the book to know that Mark Twain himself is writing about transgressive behavior that he understood, even though his main character did not. This ability to insert his ideas into the story without breaking the story itself is one of the most important aspects of Mark Twain's writing style.

Narration

"Huckleberry Finn" is told from the first person perspective of the title character. The reader is spoken to directly in the voice of this boy from his time period of the 1830s or 1840s, and his place near the Mississippi river. Twain writes "Huckleberry Finn" in the way the boy himself talks. This writing style, which includes grammatical errors, racist language that people don't normally use today and a wide-eyed youthfulness, has brought Huckleberry Finn alive for readers over many decades.

American Writing

"Huckleberry Finn" is considered one of the first purely American novels. It's style differed greatly from the European novels that were the only fiction available for centuries. Not only did Twain's writing style offer a fresh, vernacular American reading experience, but it also gave voice to his beliefs about African Americans and the horror of slavery. Through the naivety of Huckleberry Finn, readers are treated to Twain's sharp satire about these topics.