Motives in the Narrative: Some Remarks on 'Huckleberry Finn'

Brian Kiernan


Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.

This "Notice" by the author prefaces the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and is followed by an explanation that the dialects rendered in the novel are true to the speech of the region -the Mississippi Valley, of forty or fifty years before. Despite Twain's facetiousness in presenting them, these notes are worth considering seriously, as indications of his purposes and of his consciousness of the context in which he was writing. With them, as with Huck's introductory remark that we would not know him unless we had read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, "made by Mr Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly," Twain is putting his cards on the table as an anti-literary realist.

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