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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Mark Twain

Summary and Analysis Notice; Explanatory


Twain greets readers with a "NOTICE" before he steps aside and allows Huck Finn to narrate the story. The following narrative, Twain warns, should not be analyzed for "motive" or "moral" or "plot" or punishment will follow. In the Explanatory, Twain notifies readers that characters will sound as if they live in the region in which the story takes place.


These statements serve three purposes. First, the warning is a satiric jab at the sentimental literary style, which was in direct contrast to Twain's brand of literary realism. Second, the warning introduces the use of satire, a harsh and biting brand of humor that readers will continue to see in the novel. Finally, the warning is a convenient method by which to ward off literary critics who might be eager to dissect Twain's work. Twain recognizes, no doubt, that his novel will incite controversy.

Before the reader passes judgment on these warnings, perhaps a line or two from another of Twain's works, Pudd'nhead Wilson, will help put them in perspective: "Adam was but human — this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple's sake, he wanted it only because it was forbidden. The mistake was in not forbidding the serpent; then he would have eaten the serpent." (Pudd'head Wilson's Calendar, Chapter II.)