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A Tramp at Home: Huckleberry Finn, Romantic Friendship, and the Homeless Man

A Tramp at Home: Huckleberry Finn, Romantic Friendship, and the Homeless Man

Chapter:
(p.132) Six A Tramp at Home: Huckleberry Finn, Romantic Friendship, and the Homeless Man
Source:
Manly Love
Author(s):
Axel Nissen
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226586687.003.0007

This chapter considers competing understandings of male same-sex relations in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) and analyzes how Mark Twain employs typical plot elements and motifs from romantic friendship fiction in tandem with more recent and competing, pseudoscientific discourses on the homeless man. Huckleberry Finn contains the materials for a wide-ranging analysis of the different and competing understandings of nineteenth-century American manhood and the ways in which men might interact with and love each other. In order to better understand the sexual and emotional dynamics of the novel, one must understand the other kinds of writings about men alone. The chapter places Twain's classic novel in two nineteenth-century discursive contexts that have been obscured in the existing criticism: the fiction of romantic friendship and the public debate on the homeless man. Huckleberry Finn may be seen as the reverse of the medal of normative, middle-class masculinity in Victorian America and as a counterpoint to the more conventional, idealized accounts of romantic friendship in the works of several of Twain's contemporaries and rivals.

Keywords:   Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain, romantic friendship, friendship fiction, sexual dynamics, masculinity

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