Discuss Twain's use of dialects in the novel. What effect does this usage have on the reader? Does it make the novel less of an artistic achievement?
Twain's use of dialect, which has proved controversial over the years, lends to the overall realism and vividness of Huckleberry Finn. Because it is sometimes difficult to decipher the character's speech while reading, we are almost forced to read aloud: at the very least, to read this novel, one has to be able to "hear" the voices in one's own head. Performance is important in this novel, as Tom Sawyer's follies and the duke and the dauphin's cons demonstrate. Furthermore, in the world of the novel, the way in which a character speaks is closely tied to that character's status in society. Huck, who was born in poverty and has lived on the margins of society ever since, speaks in a much rougher, more uneducated-sounding dialect than the speech Tom uses. Jim's speech, meanwhile, which seems rough and uneducated, is frequently not all that different from Huck's speech or the speech of other white characters. In this way, Twain implies that it is society, wealth, and upbringing, rather than any sort of innate ignorance or roughness, that determines an individual's educational opportunities and manner of self-expression.