Twain’s Attitude Towards His Characters

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Twain’s unequal attitude towards characters

After a Huck Finn returns from his voyage and experiences with the King and Duke, he is reunited with Tom Sawyer. The two stand in the middle of the road as Huck recounts his adventures with Jim. During this time, Twain provides insight on his attitude towards the characters and their ideas, specifically focusing on Huck’s overconfidence despite his innocence, and lacking any specific thoughts about the morals of Tom Sawyer.

First, Twain portrays Huck as a young boy with too much self confidence. When he talks to Tom about his experience with the Royal Nonesuch tar-and-featherings, he states, “I knowed it WAS the king and the duke” (Twain 239). The capitalization of all the letters in the word “was” show emphasis on Huck’s idea that this was most important. Nobody was questioning him, so it’s clear that this overconfidence is part of Huck’s normal routine. Twain shows how Huck’s bold storytelling places too much importance on details that can be told with more ease.

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Even so, Twain sympathizes with Huck while he tells of his feelings after watching the tar-and-featherings: “Well, it made me sick to see it; and I was sorry for them poor pitiful rascals” (Twain 239). This shows how the author still feels bad for the main character, despite his arrogance. Twain realizes that Huck has been through a lot, and that could be overwhelming to a boy of his age. He provides details of the impact on Huck, specifically how it makes him feel “sick”. Not only does this passage show how Huck felt, but it also shows his feelings towards others when he tells of his own sorrow for King and Duke. This shows Huck’s empathy for others in addition to the empathy he deserves.

Finally, Twain displays an attitude of indifference towards Tom Sawyer. His name appears only three times throughout the entire passage. This alone shows a lack of importance of his character. This could simply be because he’s being reintroduced and Huck is doing most of the talking. However, even when he does offer and opinion, “Tom Sawyer says the same” (Twain 239). This proves that the author sees little value in explaining Tom’s ideas because they would be redundant and not add any content to the story. This is very similar to where Thoreau merely says his second year in the woods was similar to his first. Twain’s attitude towards Tom shows that he doesn’t care and it isn’t important enough to add to the story at this point.

All in all, Twain proves that Huck Finn is overconfident, but at the same time invokes sympathy for him because of his age and innocence. While Huck does most of the talking, Twain shows he is the most important character at this time because of all these emotions he associates with the young boy. While Tom Sawyer is still present, Twain shows the insignificance of his character by not even telling his story over the time he was gone when the two are finally reunited. Overall, a lot can be said about Twain’s attitude towards characters by examining the details he provides or leaves out about each individual.

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