When a writer emphasizes the difference or contrast between what appears to be true and what is actually the case, the effect is called irony. For instance, in contrast to Emmeline's sentimental treatment of death, a very real kind of death appears in the story of the feud.
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For over thirty years, the men in each family have been committed to killing off the men in the opposing family. No one remembers why the feud started, but several men have been killed each year. When the Grangerford's attend church, all the men carry guns with them, and ironically listen to preaching about brotherly love.
The Grangerford and Shepherdson families participate in a violent, tragic feud. In fact, the happenings reflect a modern day Romeo and Juliet theme, as a Grangerford daughter and Shepherdson son elope, causing a familial massacre. Ironically, the two lovers are the only ones that survive. Huck explains how civilized, wealthy and respected the Grangerford family is, but then shatters this image by detailing the feud's excessive and tragic killings. Here, Twain demonstrates the utter stupidity of even the most educated and respected families, who can destroy themselves through nonsensical behavior and excessive pride.