“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” can be considered a great novel because of its social criticism, its authenticity, its relation to God and the supernatural, and by the way it was written.
Huck Finn can be considered a great novel because of its social criticism which is shown through satire. Satire is used to criticize something that the writer deems socially wrong. Mark Twain uses satire to criticize man’s cruelty to man and religious hypocrisy. Twain criticizes man’s cruelty to man mainly through the treatment of slavery throughout the novel. Twain’s criticism of religious hypocrisy is shown when Huck stays with the Grangerfords in chapter 17. In the chapter, the Grangerfords took their guns along to church, ready to continue the feud on the way to or from the religious sanctuary.
Another way Huck Finn can be considered a great novel is because of its authenticity. Many of the events in the story follow closely to events taking place during the time that Mark Twain wrote the novel. A good example of this is slave trade, that was a part of every day life in the Southern states, and, as in the novel, no one thought negatively about it. Another example is that feuding families, such as the Grangerford – Shepherdson feud was not uncommon at the time. Another aspect that adds to the authenticity of the novel is the emphasis placed on superstitions. During the novel, we learn of some of the superstitions of the time. Some include looking at the moon over one’s left shoulder, shaking a tablecloth after sundown, and handling snakeskin. This adds to the authenticity because small children and the uneducated would place great meaning on these superstitions.
Huck Finn can also be considered a great novel because of it’s relation to God and the supernatural. During a large portion of the story, Huck is at odds on moral grounds with the only form of Christianity that he knows, which was taught to him by Miss Watson. He is debating whether or not to tell Miss Watson about Jim or take him to freedom. In addition to Christianity, there is also a “river” God that gives the story its form. The river is neither all good or all evil, but is mainly looked upon throughout the novel as divine. From the beginning of the novel until the end of it, the river controls the voyage of Huck and Jim. Its power is shown because the river would not let them land in Cairo which meant freedom for Jim. Also in the story, the river separates the two at the Grangerford’s and then reunites them later in the company of the King and the Duke. Throughout the novel we are constantly reminded of its presence and its power. Furthermore, after each short social life on shore, Huck returns to the river with relief and thankfulness.
Additionally, Huck Finn can be considered a great novel because of the way it was written. “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is an episodic novel, meaning that there are strings of incidents along the way of Huck’s travels. In the book, it is very easy to identify each episode, because throughout the novel he is going down the river, and each place he stops, starts a new incident. Even thought the novel is episodic, there is clear dramatic organization, meaning that from the beginning to the end, the suspense becomes more intense. Another factor making it a great novel is the way that Mark Twain writes. The story is very easy to read because of Twain’s ease and freedom in the use of the language. Moreover, he uses simple, direct, and fluent sentences, with the exception of Jim’s dialect.