Notes on Huckleberry Finn Themes

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Huckleberry Finn Topic Tracking: Picaresque

Picaresque is a type of novel that deals with the adventures of a rascal (in this case, Huck Finn). Picaresque is a term commonly used to describe this book. It involves the combination of various elements. The hero of the book (known as the Picaro) is a realist and someone who adapts easily to new situations. Other characters often represent a combination of wildness and civility, and the setting often reveals humans and nature coexisting in harmony.

Picaresque 1: Huck comes from an illegitimate family (a drunkard father), which is characteristic of the Picaro.

Picaresque 2: This is the first instance where a pig is mentioned. There is a constant mention of animals throughout the book, mostly of pigs and dogs. This combination of animals and humans is an example of wildness and civility being intertwined.

Picaresque 3: Dogs are mentioned here, just another example of animals and humans existing in the book together.

Picaresque 4: Huck is so confused by the way the Grangerfords and the Shepherdsons interact with each other. They seem to be civilized, and yet they go around shooting each other. This is an example of how civility can mask violence and wildness.

Picaresque 5: After Huck finally makes it back to the raft and is going down the river, he feels so good. It is comfortable for him to be on the river; it is where he feels most like himself. He interacts with nature on a very intimate level.

Picaresque 6: This is another example of Huck and nature existing together. When he watches the storm, he is mesmerized by it. It is almost as if he is a part of the storm. Huck feels perfectly comfortable just sitting in the rain.

Picaresque 7: This is another mention of dogs and pigs. They are everywhere around the town, running wild in the streets; the townspeople don't think anything of it. They just live around them, peacefully coexisting.

Picaresque 8: Colonel Sherburn, another person similar to the Grangerfords and Shepherdsons, appears very civil and distinguished. However, he shoots a man dead, and this makes Huck sick. It is the irony between what is civil and what is wild that confuses Huck.

Picaresque 9: Huck is a realist, a defining characteristic of the Picaro. He wants to rescue Jim in the easiest, most realistic way, something that Tom, a romantic, cannot accept. For him, Jim's escape has to be a big show, riddled with nonsensical tactics that just make the situation more complicated than it has to be.

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