Huck Finn Post #3
In the time that Huck spends with the Grangerfords, the elements of humor, sadness, and allusion are present as well. The Grangerfords are a rich family that are engaged in a violent feud with their neighbors, the Shepherdsons, and Huck meets them after he is separated from Jim in a crash on the river. One of the first experiences Huck has with the Grangerfords is rather humorous. Huck goes along with the Grangerfords to church, and they bring their guns with them, and the Shepherdsons had brought their guns as well. These two groups attended a sermon that creates a great sense of situational irony. “It was pretty ornery preaching – all about brotherly love, and such-like tiresomeness; but everybody said it was a good sermon…” (Twain 111). This passage is filled with situational irony because the preacher is preaching about brother love to two families who had come to church with guns just so the other family wouldn’t shoot them. It is also verbal irony that everybody thinks it was a great sermon even though they are perfectly ready to start shooting at the Shepherdsons, instead of being loving. Another instance of humorous irony is when Huck is perusing the Grangerfords’ bookshelves, and finds an interesting. “Another was Henry Clay’s speeches, and another was Dr. Gunn’s Family Medicine, which told you all about what to do if a body was sick or dead.” (Twain 103). It is verbal irony for a book of medicine to be called Gunn’s, because a gun is used to injure/kill people. Another piece of irony Huck experiences when he visits the Grangerfords is when he asks Buck to spell his fake last name, because Huck doesn’t know how to spell Jackson, and Buck spells it J-A-X-O-N, which is incorrect. This is ironic because then decides if anyone asks him how his name is spelt he knows how to spell, but he would be spelling it wrong.
The Grangerfords are a strange family, and much of what transpires during Huck’s time with them parallels the happenings of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. In Romeo and Juliet the families of the two main characters are fighting a feud for an unknown reason, which is virtually the same thing as what is happening to the Grangerfords. “’What was the trouble about, Buck? – Land?’ ‘I reckon maybe – I don’t know’ ‘Well, who done the shooting? Was it a Grangerford or a Shepherdson?’ ‘Laws, how do I know? It was so long ago.’” (Twain 110). Buck tells Huck that the feud has been going on for a long time, and few know why, which is the case in Romeo and Juliet. Another parallel between the pieces is that the Grangerfords’ daughter runs off to marry the Shepherdsons’ son, which is a mirror of what happens in Romeo and Juliet. The Grangerfords’ daughter, Sophia, receives a secret message from a Shepherdson, via Huck, and then runs off to the other sides of the river where neither family can catch them. In Romeo and Juliet, the main characters plan to run off together and get married, but fate intervenes, and both end up dead. Aside from the death at the end, the stories are extremely similar. The two families end up killing several members of the other family at the end, which is very similar to the deaths of Tybalt and Mercutio, in that neither needed to die, yet both ended up dead.
Huck’s stay at the Grangerfords is also filled with sad moments. One of the sad things Huck encounters at the Grangerfords is an empty bedroom, completely furnished for someone to live there. This room used to belong to Emmeline Grangerford, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Grangerford, who died several years previously. What makes it even sadder is that Emmeline spent her life writing about dead people. “Every time a man died, or a woman died, or a child died she would be on hand with her ‘tribute’ before he was cold.” (Twain 105). Emmeline would write amazing poetry, yet she would write it about dead people, which is a grim occupation for a young person. Instead of thinking about the good parts of life, Emmeline thought about death, and died before she was had lived a full life. Another moment of tragedy comes when the Grangerfords go after the Shepherdsons, and a full-out gun-fight takes place. Huck’s young friend, who’s about Huck’s same age, partakes in the fight, and many on both sides are killed. “I cried a little when I was covering up Buck’s face, for he was mighty good to me.” (Twain 117). Not only was Buck Huck’s very good friend, but he was just a young boy with his whole life ahead of him, and his passing is a tragedy.