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ENG250 - November 14 - Mark Twain.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Alan Ackerman

ENG250November 14Kristen YoungContinual theme in the course o I am nobody who are youHuck and Jim fit right into this theme because they are nobody o Jim is literally and legally a nobody since hes a slave o Huck is white trash o In a basic sense they give us another idea of what it is to be a nobodyWhat is the self in the sense of the private and the publicTo get a sense of myself I have to understand the larger societyHave to be able to retreat into a private space that allows us to find truths but how can you retreat completely from the culture that youre a part ofIn SelfReliance Emerson speaks against quoting from authoritative sources but in doing that he does what hes againstWhitmans Leaves of Grass doesnt represent someone who is as detached as he would like to beHuck Finn presents this in a literary form has a paradoxical status o At the one hand is antagonistic to high culture but is taken as the epitome of the best of American cultureMark Twain was arguably the first American literary personality o Used a pen name as a brand name not because he was embarrassed about something o Mark Twain is a name that was meant to capitalise on the business aspectNewspapers challenged what it is that we feel the public needs to knowThe boombust economy is very central to the novel because it was the society that Twain himself lived inTwain was really interested in the capitalist economyInvented the term the gilded age to describe the wealthy world of the 19th century o That term resonates today because of the amount of wealth that we have in first world countries and North America specificallyThe jokes in the novel reflect an economic culture based on speculation and collapse Historical Context of Huck FinnSet in the 1840s before the civil war but written in the 1880s after the civil war so its retrospectiveAfter the Civil War the Northern Republicans enforced their laws and policies on the Southern Democrats14th amendment was passed that granted blacks with citizenshipThe period of reconstruction ultimately fails o Union army withdrew o Jim Crow Laws o Enforced Segregation o Rise of the KKK The Literary Importance of Huck FinnThe language of the book should be troublingTwain is writing about the 1840s but hes writing it in the wake of the failure of reconstruction and all that entailsSaid to be a masterpiece of Twains and is a cornerstone of American literatureTom Sawyer is nowhere near as complex and disturbing as Huck Finn and shows a literary advanceDescriptive power of Twains prose is very prevailingErnest Hemingway basically said that All American writing comes from that There was nothing before There has been nothing as good since
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