CP317 lecture 6 Huck II 05

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Information about CP317 lecture 6 Huck II 05

Published on December 11, 2007

Author: Alien

Source: authorstream.com

Slide1:  HUCKLEBERRY FINN AND THE AMERICAN DREAM (FOR ‘AMERICAN DREAM’, SEE WEB WIKIPEDIA) Hope of individual prosperity free of Old World restraints Collective aspiration to ‘push back frontiers’ Today: HF as a fictional meditation on these VIEWPOINT: THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF A SW CHILD Reminder: Huck between ‘deformed conscience’ & ‘sound heart’ (arguably a ‘true conscience’) Slide2:  HOMESPUN HUCK Huck’s character and diction an elaborate metaphor for the American Dream’s contradictions, which he embodies as a child HUCK’S DICTION AS RHETORIC: His SW prejudices excusable in a child (eg he does not count ‘niggers’ as people (XXII,291)) His ‘folksiness’ therefore attractive in a child His ‘folksiness’ quintessentially American No other diction heard throughout the narrative THE METAPHOR Slide3:  AMERICA, LIKE HUCK, IS YOUNG America, like Huck, shuns ‘sivilisation’s restraints America, like Huck, seeks ‘wide open spaces’ (in Huck’s case, the raft, the Territory) BUT HUCK’S PURSUIT OF FREEDOM’S DREAM SHOWS AMERICA’S ‘FREEDOM’ IN REALITY: Grangerford/Shepherdson’s licence to feud and kill Colonel Sherburne’s licence to murder The ‘King’ and the ‘Duke’’s licence (almost) for fraud The mob’s licence to punish them cruelly The SW is a lawless and unfree community Slide4:  IDENTIFICATION WITH HUCK OR COMIC DISTANCE FROM HIM? IS THE READER CAUGHT UP IN THE NARRATOR’S CONTRADICTIONS? EXAMPLES IDENTIFICATION with attractive homespun diction BUT DISTANCE or EXCUSING re superstitions WHAT OF JOINT PORTRAYAL WITH JIM? chapter 10, opening, superstition about haunting ‘pretty reasonable’ Slide5:  JOINT PORTRAYAL WITH JIM SUPERSTITION Amusing to the reader Excusable and child-like in Huck But child-like in Jim too as an adult (chap. 10): The snake-skin (does bring bad luck!); and moon over left shoulder (Old Hank Bunker anecdote is gratuitous (107-8)?) MORALITY ‘Borrowing’ or stealing (chapter 12) Childlike calculations: excluding certain articles makes stealing OK (120)! Jim not critical of this Amusing compromise between Pap and the widow Slide6:  JOINT PORTRAYAL WITH JIM JIM’S DICTION (NB author’s prefatory note, claiming precise notation of dialects, not only the black one). Jim’s speech seems childlike (Camptown Races song!) Sharp contrast with Huck’s narrative manner Missouri black language seems naïve Does it contain implication of black inferiority? If so, then it reflects blacks’ actual situation BUT If blacks seen as inferior they are human too: Huck not alone in human reaction to them White girls’ grief at sale of slaves (XXVII, 248) Slide7:  HUCK AND JIM ISSUE DRAMATISED BY H’s PRACTICAL JOKE (chapter 15, 140-143) H ‘humbles himself’(143) Ambivalent moment: Is the reproach in full adult dignity from Jim? (142-3) Or is this the pique of one ‘child’ to another? H’s reaction suggests the former: And it leads to the decision not to give Jim away (XVI, 147-9) America’s paradox here: having slaves and treating them as human at the same time (compare 248) Slide8:  THE ‘DIALOGUE’ WITH TOM REFERENCES TO WAY TS WOULD BEHAVE Intermittently throughout book (any deception) Always to Tom as ‘authority’ (because civilised?) NB Tom is always the leader of the gang Always ironic for reader: Tom a conventional ‘imaginative’ child Tom’s projects always ‘literary’, not practical Detached from reality PERHAPS IMPLICIT COMPARISON WITH THE ADULT WORLD Slide9:  THE POWER OF IMAGINATION (negative) Tom typically constructs adventures ‘from the books’ His way has ‘style’ in Huck’s eyes For reader this is pointless in terms of practicality ANALOGY WITH THE ADULT WORLD OF SW? Many examples of people guided by fictions: ‘King’ and ‘Duke’ and the ROYAL NONESUCH K and D and the Peter Wilkes episode, ‘soul-butter’ Shepherdson/Grangerford hear sugary sermons Comic chat with Jim about Solomon story (XIV,132-6) Slide10:  AT PHELPS’S FARM (discuss novel’s conclusion (XXXII-XLIII)) Controversial – some commentators v. critical (Coveney’s introduction p. 38: ‘At Phelps’s farm, We leave the world of meaningful revolt of HF and re-enter the world of the “naughty boy”, TS’) For example TS pretends to set Jim free. The farm is an idealized memory of Twain himself (e.g. Silas Phelps’s preaching is seen in positive light, except p. 366!) But is it true that Twain has lost his way into a nostalgic trap? Slide11:  POSITIVE LOGIC OF THE ENDING TS AND HF’s WORLDS FINALLY CONFRONTED Back from the raft, HF is in ‘sivilization’ again Confrontation implicit throughout book (refs to TS) Tom’s world is the civilised world (of fiction?) HF will flee Aunt Sally’s civilising influence Playing at ‘freeing’ Jim, TS knows Miss W freed him Freedom the book’s central subject of meditation But both boys retain the attitudes of the slave states Hence characterisation is consistent Slide12:  CRITIQUE OF THE CRITICS (concerning the ending) WHAT ‘MEANINGFUL REVOLT’ BY HF? (Coveney introduction p. 38) Idyll with Jim on the raft is co-incidence, not planned HF’s guilt for ‘stealing’ Jim is circumstantial The notion of ‘stealing’ here a conventional SW idea HF still judges TS in SW terms at the end (366) HF ‘sound heart’ feelings not just his own (248) BOOK’S PERSPECTIVES NOT A ‘REVOLT’ BY HF AS CHARACTER Slide13:  HF AS EXTENDED METAPHOR, AGAIN HF NOT ONLYCHARACTER BUT NARRATOR As child character behaviour excusable As narrator we also excuse his attitudes CONSIDER THE AMOUNT OF DIRECT SPEECH allows a whole gallery of characters their own words sometimes with commentary by HF as narrator sometimes not COMIC DISTANCE PREDOMINANT, WITH OCCASIONAL DARK MOMENTS the young days of America through an innocent’s eyes ‘America’s predicament’ seen with a light touch

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