Chapter 9 Mark Twain





课 型

Theory and practice

课 题

Mark Twain


Aim of knowledge: 1. To make students get to know the definition, reasons and characteristics of American Colorism.

2. To make students get the general idea about representatives of American Colorism, esp. Mark Twain and his The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Aim of ability: training of the ability to analyze literary works along with regional styles.

Aim of quality: know the phenomenon of culture and anti-culture


Lecture, discussion, PPT presentation


Key points: Mark Twain and His The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn

Difficulties: Definition and Characters of Local Colorism


教 学 内 容


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5 mins




5 mins




Step 1: Local Colorism

1. Background of Local Colorism

Local colorism as a trend first made its presence felt in the late 1860s and early 1870s. The appearance of Bret Harte’s “The Luck of Roaring Camp” in 1868 marked a significant development in the brief history of local color fiction. Local colorists concerned themselves with presenting and interpreting the local character of their regions. They tended to idealize and glorify, but they never forgot to keep an eye on the truthful color of local life.

It did not cease to be a dominant fashion until the turn of the 20th century. It formed an important part of the realistic movement.

1. Publishing center moved to New York

2. Growth of communication and transportation

3. Rapid growth of local magazines


2.Definition of Local Colorism

Local Colorism is defined by Hamlin Garland in his Crumbling Idols as having “such quality of texture and background that it could not have been written in any other place or by anyone else than a native.”

  1.     Garland’s “texture” refers to the elements which characterize a local culture, elements such as speech, customs, and mores peculiar to one particular place.

And his “background” covers physical setting and those distinctive qualities of landscape which condition human thought and behavior.

The ultimate aim of the local colorists or Regionalism is to write or present local characters of their regions in truthful depiction distinguished from others, usually a very small part of the world. Two sides: presents an authentic surface of a particular time and location; goes beyond the surface to the depths that transform the local into the universal.


补充:Major Local Colorists

1)Bret Harte: The Luck of Roaring Camp《咆哮营的幸运儿》

2)Hamlin Garland: Main-travelled Roads 《大路条条》

3)Kate Chopin: Bayou Folk《路易斯安娜移民》, A Night in Acadie《爱克迪之夜》, The Awakening《觉醒》

4)Harriet Beecher Stowe: Old Town Folks 《老城的人们》

5)Edward Eggleston: The Hoosier Schoolmaster 《山区校长》

6)Sarah Orne Jewett: Deephaven 《深深拥有》


Step2. Mark Twain

1. Life(同学自学)

1) Early life experience

  •   Born in a little town in Mississippi

At 11, he lost his father

At 13, he stopped schooling

Tramp printer

Steamboat pilot on the Mississippi

Confederate guerrilla


Reporter on the far western frontier

Traveler abroad

2) His Marriage

At 34 years old he married Olivia Langdon Clemens, daughter of a New York coal magnate, a member of the country’s wealthy elite. She would be partner, editor, and fellow traveler in success and failure for the next thirty-five years.

3) In His Middle Ages

By 1900 Twain had become America’s foremost celebrity. He was invited to attend ship launchings, anniversary gatherings, political conventions, and countless dinners. Reporters met him at every port of call, anxious to print a new quip from the famous humorist. To enhance his image, he took to wearing white suits and loved to stroll down the street and see people staring at him.

4) His Later Life

There are many tragic events in his later life: the failure of his investments, his fatiguing travels and lectures in order to pay off his debts, and added to this, the death of his wife and two daughters which left him absolutely inconsolable. Some critics link these tragic events with the change of style in his later works, from an optimist and humorist to an almost despairing determinist.

5) His Death

Mark Twain died of illness on April 21, 1910. When he passed away, newspapers around the country declared, “The whole world is mourning.” By then, Sam Clemens had long since ceased to be a private citizen. He had become Mark Twain, a proud possession of the American nation.


2. Literary Achievements

1) Major Works

(1) The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County(1867) 《卡拉维拉斯县驰名的跳蛙》

(2) Roughing It 《艰难岁月》(1872)

(3) The Gilded Age (1873) 《镀金年代》written in collaboration with Charles Dudley Warner

(4) The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) 《汤姆索亚历险记》

(5) Life on the Mississippi(1883) 《密西西比河上的生活》

(6) Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) 《哈克贝利.费恩历险记》

(7) A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889) 《亚瑟王朝的康涅狄克州的美国佬》

(8)Pudd’nhead Wilson  (1894)《傻瓜威尔逊》

(9)The Man That Corrupted Haddleyburry (1900) 《败坏了赫德莱堡的人》

(10)Innocents  Abroad   1832《傻子出国记》

(11)The Prince and Pauper  1833《王子与平民》

(12)What Is Man 1906《人是什么?》

(13)The $30,000 Bequest  1906《三万元遗产》

(14)The Mysterious of Stranger  1916 《神秘的陌生人》

2)Writing Characteristics

(1) Literature is an art of language. Mark Twain’s language is artistic and like a sharp weapon without doubt. Mark Twain is famous for his humor and satire.

 (2) Mark Twain’s humor is based on the humor of the Western in America.

(3) He used a lot of colloquial idioms and colloquial syntax.

(4) He often described persons who was innocent, simple, naïve, and ignorant as his heroes or heroines.

(5) He used the artistic style of hyperbole on the basis of the western traditional humor and made his writing full of allegories that lay behind the humor.


Step3.The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn

1. Brief Introduction

When: around 1850, before the Civil War

Where: along the Mississippi River

Who: Huck, Jim etc.

What: the process of pursuing freedom and happiness.


Plot Summary(补充资料)

  1. Huck lives with Miss Watson who is trying to civilize him. He and Tom Sawyer become friends with her slave Jim. Huck's drunk father returns to try and take Huck back, but Huck fakes his own murder and runs away with Jim to a nearby island. Jim and Huck discover a raft, which they make their new home and set out to sail down the Mississippi River where they will both be free. Jim and Huck travel by night to avoid being caught, and sleep out in the woods during the day time. During the journey, Huck and Jim's friendship grows considerably, and the two become like family. Huck and Jim are separated when their raft hits a steamboat and Huck goes ashore to stay with a family, the Grangerford's. Huck soon becomes involved in their ongoing feud and leaves when several family members are killed. Huck also plays with the concept of morality and debates over the question of whether to turn Jim in or risk being shunned by society if he is caught with a runaway.
  2. The Duke and the King soon join Huck and Jim on the raft, and the four scam several cities out of money by performing plays and circuses. They stay at the Wilkes' house where they steal money from a family of girls whose father just died, by pretending to be their uncles. Huck eventually confesses to the girls, and abandons the Duke and the King when they try to sell Jim.
  3. Eventually Huck winds up at Aunt Sally's house and pretends to be Tom Sawyer, who they are expecting. He soon learns that she is keeping Jim hostage until his master comes to get him, and tries to think of a way to free his friend. When the real Tom comes to Aunt Sally's, the two form an intricate plan involving ransom notes and digging holes in order to free Jim. When the plan is activated, Huck and Tom are caught by angry townspeople and are forced to confess their identity and reason for disturbing the slave. Huck learns that Miss Watson set Jim free in her will, and he is no longer a slave. Huck plans to escape being civilized once more, and suggests that he will flee to live in Indian territory.

2. Plot

 1)A Map of the Adventure of Huck

  (1) St. Petersburg, Missouri (where the story begins)

  (2) Pap’s Cabin (Pap kidnaps Huck and holds him in a cabin across the river.)

  (3) Jackson’s Island, in the middle of Mississippi (Huck escapes and hides in the Jackson’s Island, where he meets Jim. )

  (4) They have a close encounter with a gang of robbers on a wrecked steamboat.

  (5) Grangerfords VS. Shepherdsons (Huck and Jim are separated because a steamboat slams into their raft before. When Huck leave there, they meet again.)

  (6) They rescue two men: the duke and the dauphin.

  (7) Wilk’s Funeral (The duke and the dauphin pretend to be Wilks’s brothers and want to swindle Peter Wilks’s inheritance.)

  (8) Phelp’s Farm (Tom Sawyer hatches a wild plan to free Jim with Huck. Finally, Jim become a free man.)

3. Characters

1) Huck

Prefer free life: I slept in the streets or in the woods, and I could do what I wanted, when I wanted. It was a fine life.

              It was a hard life because I had to wear new clothes and be good all the time.

Thoughtful、intelligent、brave: dig holes in the wooden wall

                            hiding a raft

                            faking his own death

Liar: He pretended to be a girl.

  He called himself George Jefferson.

 He cheated Sally that he was Tom.

Like risk but easily influenced by Tom


2) Tom

liking risk very much



Giving mild plans

“Now, we’ll have this gang of robbers,” he said,” and we’ll call it Tom Sawyer’s Gang.”

“Just rob and kill”, Tom said, We stop people on the road, and we kill them, and take their money and things. ”

“It’s a real adventure now, all right” he said,” very excited. Perhaps they’ll come after us, and shoot and we’ll all get killed.”


3) Jim

a run-away black slave

Superstitious but his longing for his family: Jim fell to his knees. “Please don’t hurt me!” he said,“ I’ve always be good to dead people! ”

Intelligent, practical and loyal to friends: “You say I’m a free man now, and perhaps I am. But old Tom is not going to run away and leave one of his friends with a bullet in his leg!”


4) Huck’s Pap

The town drunk

Old and dirty: He was almost fifty and he looked old. His hair was long and dirty and his face was a terrible white color. His clothes were old and dirty, too, and two of his toes were coming through his shoe.

Cruel、Inhumanity、irresponsibility:He began to hit me too much with his stick.

He often locked me in the hut and once he was away for three days.


5) Judge Thather: The important person in the town, in charge of safeguarding  money for Huck


6) Widow Douglas: nice and kind more patience with the mischievous Huck


7) The duke and the dauphin are a pair of con men. They carried out a number of increasingly swindles as they travel down the river on the raft.

The dauphin: appears to be 70, claims to be the “dauphin”, the son of King Louis XVI and heir to the French throne

The Duke: about 30, claims to be the usurped Duke of Bridgewater


4. Themes

1) Racism and Slavery

After the Emancipation Proclamation (解放黑人奴隶)and the end of the Civil War, America—and especially the South—was still struggling with racism and the aftereffects of slavery. (In chapter 6:Pop’s speech against the black man)

Although Twain wrote the novel after slavery was abolished, he set it several decades earlier, when slavery was still a fact of life.

But even by Twain’s time, things had not necessarily gotten much better for blacks in the South.

2) freedom

Huck: Physical freedom: Escape from the tyranny of his father

Moral freedom: Disgust bondage of thought and behavior.

Jim: Physical freedom: Escape from  the slavery

    Moral freedom: reach the free states.

3) Conflict between civilization and “natural life”

  Huck represents natural life through his freedom of spirit, uncivilized ways, and desires to escape from civilization. He is raised without any rules or discipline and has a strong resistance to anything that might “civilize" him.

This conflict is introduced in chapter1 through the efforts of the Widow Douglas

4) Intellectual and Moral Education

Distrust the moral and precepts of the society

Apprehend about society: Receive many teachings, regarding race and slavery

choose to“go to hell: bases these decisions on his experiences, his own sense of logic, and what his developing conscience tells him

Learn to“read”the world: distinguish good, bad, right, wrong, menace, friend.

(In chapter31, Huck wants to expose Jim. Huck tears the paper and say

“Let me go to hell”.)

5) Superstition

Generally, both Huck and Jim are very rational characters, yet when they encounter anything slightly superstitious, irrationality takes over. The power superstition holds over the two demonstrates that Huck and Jim are child-like despite their apparent maturity.    

In addition, superstition foreshadows the plot  at several key junctions.

6) Mockery of Religion

A theme Twain focuses on quite heavily on in this novel is the mockery of religion. Throughout his life, Twain was known for his attacks on organized religion. Huck Finn’s sarcastic character perfectly situates him to deride religion, representing Twain’s personal views. In the first chapter, Huck indicates that hell sounds far more fun than heaven. Later on, in a very prominent scene, the "King", a liar and cheat, convinces a religious community to give him money so he can "convert" his pirate friends. The religious people are easily led astray, which mocks their beliefs and devotion to God.

7) Friendship

Huck never really had any true friend before Jim, but the time spent with him allowed the two to become very close.

8) Love

Jim loves Huck and he has been a true friend and been through many tough situations. Huck learns to love through his friendship with Jim, who is devoted and willing to do anything for Huck.


Step4: Suggested Further Reading

1. The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

Major features

 1) combination of the vibrant (lively), loquacious (talkative) storytelling tradition rooted in folk tale etc. with the more calculated literary tradition of satire, irony, and wit.  

 2) a story-within-a-story framing structure  

The narrator is the reluctant audience for the storyteller Simon Wheeler, who is distinguished from the protagonist Jim Smiley.

 3) Targeting Humor

   (1)Jim Smiley is the primary target : a trickster who turns out to be too clever for his own good. In addition to Smiley,

   (2) the narrator is also a target, a victim of the anonymous trickster who sent him to the garrulous Simon Wheeler.

 4) Style of the short story

   (1) vocabulary

       the author’s narration: standard language, simple language

       the characters’ language: use of the vernacular

   (2) syntax: a. standard, formal; b. informal, colloquial and slangy

   (3) narrative: straightforward

2. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

classic of children’s book,

full of good-hearted humor,

beautiful descriptions of children’s world, an idyll of boyhood, eternal summer, author’s nostalgic recollections of his own childhood, only occasional encounter with evils.


Step5: Key Points and Difficulties

Key Points: Mark Twain and His the Adventure of Huckleberry Finn

Difficulties: Definition and Characters of Local Colorism


Step6: Homework

    Please read Stephen Crane’s masterpiece The Open Boat and introduce its major themes and artistic features to the class.