The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

WHat is the purpose of the long passages in the chapter describing the Grangerford house

Chapter 17

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Huck’s stay at the Grangerfords represents another instance of Twain poking fun at American tastes and at the conceits of romantic literature. For Huck, who has never really had a home aside from the Widow Douglas’s rather spartan house, the Grangerford house looks like a palace. Huck’s admiration is genuine but naïve, for the Grangerfords and their place are somewhat absurd. In the figure of deceased Emmeline Grangerford, Twain pokes fun at Victorian literature’s propensity for mourning and melancholy. Indeed, Emmeline’s hilariously awful artwork and poems mock popular works of the time. The combination of overzealous bad taste and inherently sad subject matter in Emmeline’s art is both bizarre and comical: as we learn, Emmeline was so enthusiastic in her artistic pursuits that she usually beat the undertaker to a new corpse. Huck, meanwhile, feels uneasy about the macabre aspect of Emmeline’s work. His attempts to accept her art and life remind us that sometimes laughter is insensitive: Emmeline and her subjects were all real people who died, after all.