Huckleberry Finn: Social Commentary

Sarah Williams

What is Social Commentary?

Social Commentary is the critique of one or more aspects in society to highlight flaws, and is often not a comment, but rather a form of criticism. Social commentary is usually expressed by authors through literature to express their feelings and point of view towards a certain issue in society. Issues surrounding aspects of society attract the attention of people who feel these flaws need fixing

Social Commentary is important because it can spark feelings against situations in society that can be looked at as harmful or wrong. Commentary can also spark movement for wanting to do something about the situation and taking action to stop or prevent it. In the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn written by Mark Twain, there are many explicit examples of social commentary, one of which I will explain in this infographic.

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Huckleberry Finn Example

In the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain used an example of social commentary on the topic of careless parents and abandoned children. Pap, Huck's father, is an alcoholic who spends every cent of money he has to fulfill his cravings of alcohol. He has put in no effort to raise Huck, which is why Huck went to live with Widow Douglas. When Pap kidnaps him from Widow Douglas, he locked him in their house, and started abusing him when he was drunk. This is obviously no way to treat your own child. Through this example, Mark Twain is trying to get the point across that there are lots of parents who get distracted by things in life, such as alcohol, and forget about their children.

In the beginning of the book, Huck explains that he hasn't seen his father in a year, and that he's "comfortable with that" because he "didn't want to see him no more." (page 11). When Huck was with his father, he "used to whale [him] even when he was sober and could get his hands on [him]; though [he] used to take to the woods most of the time when he was around." (page 11). This evidently shows how badly his father treats him and how he abandoned Huck.

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Real World Example

In the song "Poppa Was a Playa" recorded by Nas, it talks about how a careless father who has a wife and children abandoned them. Through the music, it reveals how deep and dark this relationship with the father was, because of his addiction to crack and pot, as well as other women.

This relates to my topic and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn because it is a form of social commentary judging on parents that have abandoned their families for things such as alcohol or drugs. This was told through a literary piece of music, rather than a book as Mark Twain did. This song is similar to the book example, because the father in the song is similar to Pap in the book. They have abandoned their families to pursue other meaningless things that are less important than family.

This is a song that tugs at the heart strings of people, trying to convince them about the cruelty of abandonment.

Original Social Commentary

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This is a poster made using social commentary that tugs at the heartstrings on the topic of abandonment. It uses emotional appeal to persuade people that abandonment of parents is sadly a common issue, and breaks hearts of thousands of kids. It shows that these types of parents will carelessly takes things from their parents to fulfill their own needs, and they don't care if they hurt anyone along the way. This relates to the book and song example shown above by using social commentary on the same topic.