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Comparison and Contrast of the Mode of Narration in the Two Novels

The novels chosen for this essay are Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. Adventures of Huckleberry begins by recounting events that took place in The Adventure by Tom Sawyer. The setting of the story is St. Petersburg where Huckleberry has to live under the command of his alcohol-abused father. Huckleberry explains his struggles with a drunken father and highlights the issues of racism and slavery. His adventures give him large sums of money, and he manages to escape from the cabin by faking his own death. He goes ahead to try rescue some slaves such as Jim. On the other hand, The Eyes Were Watching God entails Jamie Crawford telling her story to Phoeby. She utilizes flashback in telling the story that entails three significant periods where she was married to three different men. These stories are similar in their narration, because they embrace the Southern dialect. However, the mode of narration differs, as Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is told from the first person point of view and Their Eyes Were Watching God is told from the third person point of view. Accordingly, the mode of narration in both novels remains constant throughout the story as the authors try to emphasize outstanding themes such as those of racism, identity, and slavery.

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The most significant similarity in the mode of narration in both novels is the use of Southern and black dialects. Notably, both stories employ Southern and black dialects in telling the story hence emphasizing the theme of race, slavery, and identity. Huck tells his entire story in the Southern and black dialect to emphasize his struggles and diverse adventures in his life. For instance, Twain (2006) uses Huck's words when he asserts: "But by-and-by pap got too handy with his hick'ry... he got to going away so much (6)." This is vital in explaining his social background and helping readers understand his plight in the society. The Southern dialect is used in narrating Janie's story to Phoeby. Hurston (2009) highlights the Southern dialect through the words: "...You know if you pass some people and don't speak tuh suit "em day go way back..." The use of the Southern dialect in both stories is an effective mode of narration, because it brings characters to life by revealing their exact identity. It also makes readers attached to the story as everyone tries to get the exact meaning out of the story.

However, these novels differ in their mode of narration as Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is told from a first person point of view and Their Eyes Were Watching God is told from a third person point of view. Accordingly, Huckleberry takes the initiative of telling his own story hence giving the readers a deeper understanding of the entire story. Every aspect of the story starting from the fictional town of St. Petersburg and finishing with Huckleberry's relationships with his father is told from the first point of view. He tells about all the exploits in Illinois, Kentucky, Arkansas, and at the Phelp's farm from his own point of view. He explains his experiences with different slaves that were held on farms and his efforts to ensure they gain their freedom. The first person point of view used in narration is effective, because it helps to understand his feelings and reactions. On the other hand, Janie's story is narrated from the third person point of view. Hurston (2009) narrates the entire story on behalf of Janie hence helping bring out her thoughts and motifs. The third person point of view has been effectively utilized to explain her interactions with men in three different relationships that she did not necessarily likes to be associated with. It has also been significant in highlighting her desire to get independence as a woman throughout the story. The folksy language and metaphors utilized by the narrator play a vital role in highlighting her background as an African-American woman and her slavery experiences in the earlier years.


Reasons for the Choice of the Narration

In Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain (2006) chose the first person point of view to enable Huckleberry to tell his own story and express his own feelings in the simple language he understands. From the story, the readers get the view that Huck is a young boy with a low educational level and a social background that tends to strengthen him in his endeavors. This means the author chose the first person point of view to give the readers a convincing view of Huckleberry's story. The first person point of view is always effective in highlighting the real thoughts and motifs of the story's character and helpful the adventures of Huck in different places. The readers are able to get the true view of race and slavery in antebellum South through Huck's direct narration, which brings out his own views and ideas about the treatment of blacks. This point of view was also chosen to give a direct indication of Huck's character as he exhibits his ability to make moral and ethical decisions that are meant for the good of all the slaves such as Jim. Therefore, the author embraced the first person point of view and the Southern dialect in the narration to highlight Huck's background and his overall actions and feelings throughout the story.

In Their Eyes Were Watching God, the author used the third person point of view and the Southern dialect to highlight Janie's desires and thoughts and reveal the habits of the gossipy Eatonville women. Notably, Hurston (2009) takes the initiative to tell the readers about Janie's motives from the beginning of the story and believes that the third person point of view will be effective. From the third person point of view, it is easier for the readers to understand that Janie had been initially motivated by the desire to find love as she moved into her first relationships. The third person mode of narration is effective in bringing out this understanding. However, her first two marriages end in disappointment as she does not find the love she was longing for in her initial plans. The author also utilizes the third person mode of narration to give an effective explanation of the lessons that Janie had learned in her adventures looking for love and her way forward. It is vital to explain the readers these aspects to help them understand her strengths and methods of fulfilling her desires. The Southern dialect is used as a mode of narration in most parts of the story to enable the readers understand her origin as a black woman who has experienced the horrors of slavery as her grandmother lived in slavery. The dialect is also instrumental in highlighting the character of the gossipy Eatonville women who would not spare anyone of their gossip. They always had something to talk about as it occurred within the society.

Does the Mode of Narration Vary Throughout the Novel?

The mode of narration in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn does not vary throughout the novel. Twain maintains the first person point of view and the use of Southern and black dialect throughout the novel without necessarily changing it. The mode of narration is the same from St. Petersburg to Phelp's farm where Huck tries to free Jim from slavery. The maintenance of the mode of narration is vital, because it makes the entire story easily understandable to the readers. The readers are able to derive themes from the feelings and conduct of Huck through a constant mode of narration throughout the story. Again, the mode of narration remains unchanged thus highlighting Huck's long journey as a young man who intends to find some sense in the society. This makes the overall story easy to comprehend.

On the other hand, the mode of narration in Their Eyes Were Watching God has limited variations throughout the story. The story is mainly built along the third person point of view that helps explain Janie's motifs. However, this varies in some parts where dialogue is used to show Janie's experiences in her three marriages. There are instances where the author has incorporated Janie's personal words to Phoeby as she told her of the different experiences she had undergone and the lessons she had learnt throughout her life. This variation is vital, because it helps to indicate the relevance of the author's thoughts about Janie and her true character. This is especially because the readers understand her personal feelings and views from her direct words to Phoeby. Overall, this story varies in its mode of narration with the aim of emphasizing Jenie's genuine feelings and ideas.

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How the Decision Is Influenced by Themes the Book Addresses

According to Twain (2006), the most significant themes in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are racism, slavery, and hypocrisy of the civilized society. These themes influenced the author's decision to stick to a single mode of narration. It was easy to explain these themes using a single mode of narration rather than mixing up different approaches. This is especially because the entire story surrounds a single individual who has to witness all factors relating to slavery, hypocrisy, and racism from whites. The need to drive the point home using these themes ensured that the author stuck to the same mode of narration throughout the story to simplify the readers' understanding. Huck is the protagonist who is in a better position to explain the effects of slavery and race in the society without necessarily being helped by another person. Therefore, themes in the story played a vital role in ensuring that the mode of narration remains constant from the beginning to the end.

Hurston (2009) indicates that the key themes in Their Eyes Were Watching God include love versus independence, materialism, and control among individuals. These themes influence the decision of the author to vary themes throughout the story. The author believes that the best way to explain love and the desire for independence for women is relationships. The use of the third person point of view makes it easier for the author to explain this theme through the thoughts and desires of Janie. Again, Hurston finds it easier to explain the theme of materialism through Janie's own words. The author ensures that dialogue is effectively used in this situation to explain her acquisition of wealth and the feeling of acquiring this wealth. Overall, the key themes in the story make it easier for the author to vary the mode of narration and ensure it is easily explained throughout the story to give it meaning.


In conclusion, Adventures of Huckleberry and Their Eyes Were Watching God are similar in their modes of narration as they use the Southern dialect. This dialect is mainly used to highlight the black origin of protagonists in the story. Nevertheless, they differ in their point of view narration as Huck's story is narrated from the first person point of view to ensure his thoughts and feelings are directly expressed. However, Hurston tells the story of Janie from the third person point of view hence ensuring that the readers easily understand her motifs and desires. The different modes of narration highlight the different approaches embraced by the writers in telling their stories. These points of view have been chosen because of their significance and effectiveness in passing across the thoughts of protagonists. For instance, Huck passes across his ideas on slavery and hypocrisy from the first point of view. This is easier for him because of his direct experiences of slavery and racism. It is also easy to tell Janie's story from the third point of view because of its nature. The story is effectively divided into three parts, and the author embraces the third point of view to bring out her thoughts in the most effective way. The differing themes that come out in the stories significantly influence the mode of narration employed by the authors. They try to use a mode that will be effective in explaining the theme enabling the readers to easily understand it. Both novels utilize their points of view to explain their themes in the best manner possible.

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