During what may now be dubbed the “first” Gilded Age, writers like Mark Twain began to satirize the national ideal of innocence—the concept that America was somehow both ahistorical and exceptional. This article proposes a new reading of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), viewed through the lens of Twain's satire of the Bible. In Letters from the Earth (1962) and The Diaries of Adam and Eve (1997), Twain emphasizes the pure innocence of the supposed first man and woman and has Satan provide ironic commentary on God's paternal hypocrisy toward the “damned human race.” Through Huck, Adam, and Eve, Twain exhibits a parody of the exceptional nature of American innocence. By characterizing Satan as sympathetic, God as cruel and thoughtless, and humankind as the worst of the Creator's inventions, Twain draws attention to the distance between what is known to be human and what is thought to be just.

You do not currently have access to this content.