Huckleberry Finn - Life on the river

The difference between life on the river and life in the towns along the river is an important theme in the novel ?The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn? by Mark Twain. Twain uses language to draw the contrast effectively as well as through the atmosphere that has been created, the diction, the punctuation and the figures of speech employed.

The two paragraphs, which most effectively display this contrast, refer to the peaceful life on the river and the vile nature of the streets and lanes of a town.

In the fist paragraph Huck describes in mostly monosyllabic and colloquial expressions how pleasant life on the river is. At the beginning of the passage Huck uses the image of swimming peacefully to describe how the time passes, ?you might say they swum by, they slid along so quite smooth and lovely. The alliteration of swum, slid and smooth helps to formulate a mental semblance of the swift and steady motion of the river and like the rivers flowing the words also seem to easily flow. This image is appropriate as it directly relates to the motion of the river on which they are travelling.

?Here is the way we put in the time.? Presents Huck?s idyllic life on the river is as routine. The words ?then? and ?next? are repeated several times in the first half of the passage, their function and effect is ensure that the passage flows, much like the river, in a slow and constant sequential manner.

A sense of relaxed movement is conveyed and emphasised by diction and alliteration throughout the passage ?then a pale place in the sky; then more paleness?. The use of onomatopoeia ?swift? allows the passage to progress in the same continuous and serene motion as the river. The words and phrases ?nice breeze springs up? and ?smiling in the sun? particularly emphasise the freshness of the scene. Huck?s use of personification ?everything smiling in the sun? depicts the contentment that everything around him is experiencing as a new day begins and the sun comes out.

A direct contrast to the first paragraph is the second, describing the disgusting nature of a town along the river and the streets within it. The paragraph begins with ?mud? being used repeatedly to convey an image of filth. The simile ?as black as tar? represents the image of darkness and evil. Huck describes a sow feeding her young, ?wave her ears whilst the pigs was milking her, and look as if she was on a salary?, this simile demonstrates how content the sow was. As the paragraph progresses we see someone yell out, ?Hi! so boy! sick him, Tige!? and dogs begin to attack the sow.

The overall atmosphere of the second paragraph is in direct contrast to that of the first. The overall atmosphere of the first paragraph is that of happiness and peaceful serenity. This is in obvious opposition to the second where the atmosphere created depicts filth.

The discomfort that the sow is experiencing is amplified ?squealing most horrible?? by the use of onomatopoeia, as whilst the word is said the sound the pig would have made is easily imagined. Word choice; ?death?, ?stray?, ?fire? and ?dogfight? add emphasis to the unpleasant scene Huck is witnessing whilst in this particular town, this plays as a direct contrast to the life of the river with it?s tranquillity and Twain?s word choice; ?smooth?, ?lovely?, ?perfectly still? and ?smiling?, these words, with their positive connotations, dramatically emphasises this major contrast.

The punctuation in the first paragraph is simple and free flowing with the use of many comma?s and extended sentence length to exemplify the smooth motion of the river. The striking contrast is that in the second paragraph the punctuation is no longer free flowing, but rather it has changed to abrupt full stops and exclamation marks ?Hi! so boy! sick him, Tige!? which highlights the brutality of the scene.

The figures of speech used in the first paragraph are that of the flow of the river to be like easy swimming ?I might say they swum by? and that everything is happy on the river when the sun comes out ?everything smiling in the sun?. The figures of speech used in the second paragraph are far more brutal ?make them happy all over, like a dog fight? signifying that the