The author argues that Huck Finn’s speech patterns as well as his personality is based on an earlier character that Mark Twain wrote about called “Sociable Jimmy,” a character based on a young African-American boy that was sent to watch him. The author argues that Twain unconsciously borrowed a number of influences from African-Americans, such as vocabulary and grammatical structures, and that by placing those qualities into the character of Huck Finn, a white child, a character known for his authentic American voice, it masks the various African-American influence Twain had in developing that character. Additionally, the author also critiques critics of Huckleberry Finn by pointing out that most of them operate on the assumption that Huck Finn’s character and his voice in the novel is white and he argues that African-American influences present in Huck Finn actually inform the American literature’s definition of colloquial style. In the author’s eyes, the American literature’s colloquial style of writing owes a lot to the African American community.
The author uses a variety of primary sources in this article, but draws heavily on excerpts from Mark Twain’s works: “Sociable Jimmy” and Huckleberry Finn. Additionally, the author also uses Twain’s responses in interviews, letters that Mark Twain sent between 1872-1876 to various individuals that detail his experiences and observations of African-American individuals, as well as a letter from John Ayre...
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...ially when compared to other works that Mark Twain wrote. I thought it was really interesting and the deconstruction of Twain’s words broth from the author’s perspective and from the secondary source’s perspective was really interesting. It was also interesting to note that the author doesn’t really outright assert the implications of his argument, but is more subtle in his approach. He chooses to spend most of his argument asserting the connection between Huck Finn and “Sociable Jimmy,” then going into detail about how “Sociable Jimmy” was based on a real person, then he uses linguistic analyses of the 1870’s and 1880’s African-American vernacular to establish how and why Huck Finn could be construed as white, yet hide African-American influences in his character. As such, he tries to builds on the different connections that he makes, in order to weave his argument.
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