Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Across Disciplines
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The Feud, Chapter 18

"Did you want to kill him, Buck?"

"Well, I bet I did."

"What did he do to you?"

"Him? He never done nothing to me."

"Well, then, what did you want to kill him for?"

"Why, nothing -- only it's on account of the feud."

"What's a feud?"

"Why, where was you raised? Don't you know what a feud is?"

"Never heard of it before -- tell me about it."

"Well," says Buck, "a feud is this way: A man has a quarrel with another man, and kills him; then that other man's brother kills him; then the other brothers, on both sides, goes for one another; then the cousins chip in -- and by and by everybody's killed off, and there ain't no more feud. But it's kind of slow, and takes a long time."

"Has this one been going on long, Buck?"

"Well, I should reckon! It started thirty year ago, or som'ers along there. There was trouble 'bout something, and then a lawsuit to settle it; and the suit went agin one of the men, and so he up and shot the man that won the suit -- which he would naturally do, of course. Anybody would."

"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."

"Don't anybody know?"

"Oh, yes, pa knows, I reckon, and some of the other old people; but they don't know now what the row was about in the first place."

"Next Sunday we all went to church, about three mile, everybody a-horseback. The men took their guns along, so did Buck, and kept them between their knees or stood them handy against the wall. The Shepherdsons done the same. It was pretty ornery preaching -- all about brotherly love, and such-like tiresomeness; but everybody said it was a good sermon, and they all talked it over going home, and had such a powerful lot to say about faith and good works and free grace and
preforeordestination, and I don't know what all, that it did seem to me to be one of the roughest Sundays I had run across yet."

Huck and Tom: Chapter 2
Huck and Miss Watson: Chapter 3
Jim and Hairball: Chapter 4

Pap: Chapter 6

Jim's Escape: Chapter 8
The River: Chapter 12
Huck and the Feud: Chapter 18
The Camp-meeting: Chapter 20
 Huck's Dilemma: Chapter 31
  Works Cited
 Methodology
 
 

 

Sources

Feud

Entry: the Feud, found in The Annotated Huckleberry Finn.

"A vendetta, once characteristic of Scottish clans and Corsican families and associated with this part of the country. The names of the rival families suggest the long competition on the American frontier between farmers and herders: there is also a biblical prototype in the conflict between Cain the granger and Abel the shepherd, which resulted in the first murder in Western history, that between two brothers."

Hearn, Michael Patrick. The Annotated Huckleberry Finn. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2001, pp. 189-90

"What's a feud?"

Entry: Feuding, found in The Companion to Southern Literature.

“Mark Twain’s depiction of the Grangerford-Shepherdson feud in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) shows the classic features of feuds between families. The feud occurs in Kentucky before the Civil War, but its pattern is that of such feuds in other times and places: (1) the feud began long before, and Buck Grangerford cannot tell Huck exactly how or when it began; (2) a lawsuit, the issue now forgotten, failed to resolve the dispute between parties; (3) the loser of the lawsuit shot the winner; (4) the winner’s kin shot the assassin, the loser’s kin killed in revenge, and a succession of reciprocal killings for revenge spread to include the extended families, and Buck tells Huck how boy cousins were hunted down and shot; (5) the opposing feudists respect the courage and cunning of their enemies—no cowards among the Shepherdsons, Buck says; (6) the feuding families have no idea how the feud will ever end, its burden being passed from generation to generation; and (7) the feud is brought to crisis when lovers from opposing families elope as do Sophia Grangerford and Harney Shepherdson in Twain’s story. Sometimes the elopement results in reconciliation, sometimes in the massacre of one family by the other.”

Flora, Joseph M. and Lucinda H. Mackethan, eds. The Companion to Southern Literature. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2002, pp. 250-51

"Where was you raised?"

Entry: "Where was you raised?" found in The Annotated Huckleberry Finn.

"Aristocratic Buck puts down low-down Huck for being ignorant of the code of honor followed in this part of the country. He defends a system he believes in without really understanding it. Southern chivalry, like slavery, corrupted at even the tenderest age."

Hearn, Michael Patrick. The Annotated Huckleberry Finn. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2001, p. 191

"Everybody's killed off"

Entry: Violence, found in The Companion to Southern Literature.

“Certain types of violence—aesthetic, political, and social (racial)—do arguably distinguish the South from similar tensions to be found in other regions and literatures. Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) might be said to typify the range of these tensions—personal as well as social, aesthetic as well as political. Twain’s complicated relationships to both North and South enabled him to view the South’s predominant literary modes—the structuring narratives of plantation pastoral and white populism—with dispassionate distance. This is particularly evident in the naïve Huck’s critique of the superficiality of the Grangerfords and their pretensions to class system; the illusions of Tom Sawyerism; and the low-life ‘flapdoodle’ of the Duke and Dauphin.”

Flora, Joseph M. and Lucinda H. Mackethan, eds. The Companion to Southern Literature. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2002, p. 935

"He up and shot the man that won the suit -- which he would naturally do, of course."

Entry: Grangerfords, found in The Mark Twain Encyclopedia.

“The proud family of planter aristocracy that takes in Huckleberry Finn after the destruction of his raft…[is] a clan whose feud with the neighboring Shepherdsons provides the occasion for Twain’s attack on senseless codes of southern honor and for satire on sentimental literature and false art.”

LeMaster, J. R. and James D. Wilson. The Mark Twain Encyclopedia. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1993, p. 336

Grangerford

Entry: Grangerfords, found in The Mark Twain Encyclopedia.

“The Grangerford episode also provided Twain with the occasion for one of his free-swinging attacks on sentimentalism. The Grangerford plantation house…is a compilation of middle-class bad taste: sentimental pictures, a showpiece clock that does not tell time, fake fruit in a fake basket, and crayon sketches devoted to suffering and death.” pp. 336-37

LeMaster, J. R. and James D. Wilson. The Mark Twain Encyclopedia. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1993, pp. 336-37

"The men took their guns along"

Entry: Mark Twain, found in Fifty Southern Writers Before 1900. A Bio-bibliographical Sourcebook.

“In Tom Sawyer Mark Twain makes gentle fun of Sunday schools and the rigidities of adult society, but such criticism is not the central focus of the novel. It is much more important in Huckleberry Finn. The whole of the trip down the river is an expose of the brutality, hatred, hypocrisy, and violence of American society. Particularly effective is the episode in which Huck finds shelter and almost a home with the Grangerfords, whose parlor, a masterpiece of overelaborated Victorian décor, he admires, along with the poetry of Emmeline Grangerford. When he discovers the hypocrisy of the feuding Grangerfords and Shepherdsons, who take their weapons to church to hear a sermon on brotherly love, Huck is devastated."

Bain, Robert and Joseph M. Flora, eds. Fifty Southern Writers Before 1900. A Bio-bibliographical Sourcebook. New York: Greenwood Press, 1987, p. 151

"pretty ornery preaching -- all about brotherly love, and such-like tiresomeness"

Entry: Western Humor, found in Encyclopedia of the American West.

Mark Twain's humor and irony was "laced with myths, romantic settings, and local color, that typically juxtaposed innocent and unsophisticated ruggedness to cosmopolitan nastiness or intellectual pretension or social snobbery."

Phillips, Charles and Axelroad, Alan. Encyclopedia of the American West. New York : Macmillan, c1996.

Entry: Mark Twain and Agnosticism, found in Contemporary American Religion.

This passage reflects Mark Twains affinity for agnosticism through its humorous criticism of the hypocrisy of Christianity. Although the family belongs to a church where "brotherly love" is sacred, they are entangled in a bloody feud with another Christian family. Mark Twain became agnostic around the time he wrote The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He became agnostic because of the "democratic and humanistic ideals" of the ethos.

Clark, Wade Roof. Contemporary American Religion. New York : Macmillan Reference USA, c2000.

Preforeordestination

Entry: Preforeordestinaton, found in The Annotated Huckleberry Finn.

"Huck has garbled two of the cardinal tenets of Presbyterianism: predestination and foreordination. These principles argue that all things are already planned by God and consequently He has already decided who will receive salvation. One would think that the blood feud would have damned their eternal soulds, but being of 'the first aristocracy,' both the Grangerfords and Shepherdsons believe that they remain among God's elect. The 'ornery' preaching only reinforces their immorality and hypocrisy."

Hearn, Michael Patrick. The Annotated Huckleberry Finn. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2001, p. 198