Genre of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Instructor: Christina Boggs

Chrissy has taught secondary English and history and writes online curriculum. She has an M.S.Ed. in Social Studies Education.

What genre does ''The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn'' fall under? For readers, this may be a tricky question to answer. This lesson explains how Mark Twain's novel falls under three different literary genres: picaresque, bildungsroman, and satire.

Genre

When you read a text or novel, do you ever stop to think about what type of book it is? Maybe you stop to think about how it's similar to or different from other works that you've read. These similarities and differences help to place books into different genres, or categories of books. Popular genres include science fiction, fantasy, romance, and autobiography. Depending on the book you're reading, it may even fall into more than one genre. This lesson explores the genres of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Huckleberry Finn 2nd edition book cover
Huckleberry Finn 2nd edition book cover

Adventure and Picaresque

First and foremost, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn falls into the adventure and picaresque genres. Picaresque is a special type of adventure genre that features a rough-and-tumble hero who experiences one adventure after another. Picaresque novels are described as episodic; the events throughout the story are somewhat self-contained, kind of like watching a television series.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn tells the story of Huck, a boy from modest means who would much rather run wild than be civilized by the women taking care of him. At the beginning of the novel, Huck's vagabond father (Pap) arrives in town. A well-known drunk and all-around nasty guy, Pap kidnaps Huck and takes him to a small cabin in the woods. Huck eventually manages to escape captivity and finds himself on an epic journey down the Mississippi River with Jim, an escaped slave. Throughout the novel, Huck finds himself in the middle of a violent family feud, in the company of two con artists, and eventually on the farm of his friend Tom Sawyer's relatives.

Bildungsroman

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn also falls under the bildungsroman, or coming of age, genre. While rafting down the Mississippi, Huck learns valuable life lessons. As he grows as a person, so does his awareness and understanding of human nature. Much of this is evidenced by his relationship with the escaped slave Jim. After Jim is sold back into slavery, Huck realizes that he must stop at nothing to give Jim the liberty he deserves.

Huckleberry Finn

Satire

If you know anything about Mark Twain, you know that he was a pretty funny guy. Many of his novels poke fun at contemporary American culture, society, and politics. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn can also be considered a part of the satire genre for these reasons.

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