The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain is a great exemplory case of a satire that Twain uses to mock different facets of the society. The novel is filled with wild adventures encountered by the two main character, Huckleberry Finn, an unruly young boy, and Jim, a black runaway slave. Through the entire novel, Twain uses Huck to satirize the religious hypocrisy, white society's stereotypes, and superstitions both to amuse the reader and to make the reader alert to the social ills of that present time.
One of the key victims of Twain's satire is Religion. Throughout the book, Twain uses various situations to mock the beliefs of religion. Twain uses the feud between Grangerfords and Shepardsons to satirize religion and to expose the hypocrisy in people during this time. Mark Twain writes, "Next Sunday most of us visited church around three mile, everyone a-horseback. The men took their gun and kept them between their knees or stood them helpful resistant to the wall. "(Twain 109) For Twain, such a feud is pointless and against his common sense. The feud has truly gone on such a long time that neither of these knows why or how it started. Additionally, these men go to church to pray to God and when they're done, they go out and kill each other. This implies that each goes to church to make themselves look good before the city, not for religious purpose. Another exemplory case of satire is when Huck says, "Then Miss Watson she took me in the closet and prayed, but nothing come from it. She told me to pray every day, and whatever I asked for I would obtain it. " (Twain 10) Twain uses this to mock Christian beliefs. After praying and getting nothing from it, Huck appears to conclude that there surely is no point in praying to God if nothing is gained from it.
During this time stereotypes of black people was common in the white society. Twain satirizes white society stereotypes so that they can tactfully ridicule society. Huck's upbringing teaches him that slavery is an integral part of the natural order. Because of this, he missed anything wrong with the way slaves were treated. In the beginning of Huck and Jim's journey Huck thinks of Jim as not the same as him. He expresses this when he says, "when we was ready to shove off we was 25 % of your mile below the island, and it was pretty broad day; so I made Jim lay out in the canoe and cover up with a quilt, because if he set up people could tell he was a nigger a good ways off. " (Twain 51) Here, Huck wrongly assumes that individuals can spot a black person form great distance. At this time, he still believes that blacks are essentially not the same as whites. Another example of this is when Huckleberry speaks of Jim, he says, "he judged it was all up with him anyway it could be fixed; for if he didn't t get saved he would get drowned; of course, if he did get saved, whoever saved him would send him back home to be able to have the reward, and then Miss Watson would sell him South, sure. Well, he was right; he was most always right; he had an uncommon head level head for a nigger. " (Twain 76) Here, Huckleberry assumes that black people aren't as smart as whites. This is another exemplory case of a standard stereotype of this time. Twain uses Jim tactfully to illustrate the fact that dark colored people are just like intelligent as light colored people. Finally, Twain also uses satire when he writes of the rumor of Huckleberry's supposed death. Twain writes, "Some think old Finn done it himself most everyone thought it initially. He'll never understand how nigh he come for you to get lynched. But before night they changed around and judged it was done by a runaway nigger named Jim. " (Twain 56) Initially, Townspeople suspect Pap, Huck's father, the city drunk for the murder of Huck. Then, people started out to suspect Jim because he ran away the same day Huck was killed. However Jim would not have a motive to kill Huck whereas Pap's motive for murdering Huckleberry would be for his inheritance. Through this, Twain depicts that white people of that time would rather blame an innocent black person for a crime, than blame one of their own kind.
Through the book, Twain uses Jim to spell it out many types of superstitions. Jim discusses a great variety of superstitions from the time Huck meets him on Jackson's Island until the end of the novel. At first, Huck rejects most of Jim's superstitions as silly, but at last he involves be grateful for Jim's deep knowledge of the planet. One point at which Twain mocks superstition is when Tom plays a trick on Jim as he sleeps, hanging his hat above him on the tree. In an attempt to describe what happed to his hat, Jim says, "Afterwards Jim said the witches be witched him and put him in a trance, and rode him all over the State, and then set him under the trees again, and hung his hat over a limb showing who done it. " (Twain 6) Here, Twain ridicules superstitions because of their desire for the supernatural by showing a confused Jim wanting to make clear what happened to his hat. Another example of superstitious is when Twain writes, "And he said that handling a snake-skin was such awful misfortune that maybe we hadn't got to the end than it yet. He said he druther see the new moon over his left shoulder up to one thousand times than take up a snake-skin in his hand. " (Twain 53) Throughout the book, handling a dead snake-skin sometimes appears as an indicator of misfortune and apparently leads Jim and Huck into a variety of misfortune adventures. Just one more exemplory case of superstitious is when Twain writes, "Some young birds arrive, flying a yard or two at the same time and lighting. Jim said it was a sign that it was going to rain. " (Twain 45) That is another exemplory case of one of Jim's superstitious views. Jim believes there's a sign for all things that happen in nature. Jim views the birds as the sign of rain. Since no weather devices were offered by this time around, signs like these were used to predict the weather.
Mark Twain uses much satire in the novel, especially centered after the society that was present in those days and their stereotypes, religion and their superstitions. He ridicules society for what Twain thinks is their ignorance. At the time the book was written, society was strict and committed to their religious beliefs. Despite the fact that spirituality and religion are a serious matter, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn allowed them to sit back, analyze their means of thinking and hopefully lighten up a little.