Huckleberry Finn is a satirical novel, meaning that it uses humor and irony to criticize an aspect of society. In this case, Twain is criticizing the hypocrisy of slavery, specifically how white Christians in the American South felt that enslaving Black people was morally justifiable. Twain is also parodying the types of adventure novels written for children that the immature Tom Sawyer often references in the novel. In titling the book The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain “tricks” readers into thinking that they are going to get a young boy’s fun adventure story when, in reality, the novel is tackling serious issues, such as the morality of slavery and hypocrisy of religion.
As a coming-of-age story in which a naïve boy matures into a young man with more knowledge of the world, Huckleberry Finn also belongs to the genre called Bildungsroman, which focuses on a protagonist's coming of age. Though Huck himself doesn’t necessarily understand all the ways that he has grown up over the course of the novel, readers watch him let go of his adventurous fantasies and hypocritical Christian values in order to prioritize saving his friend Jim from slavery, developing his own moral compass in the process.
Huckleberry Finn is also a picaresque, a type of fiction that centers the story of a lower-class, rough-around-the-edges protagonist who does what they have to do to survive in a corrupt society. Picaresques are known for embracing realism, meaning they don’t romanticize the struggles of everyday life. In Huckleberry Finn, readers watch as Huck navigates abuse from his father, the dangers of living on a raft in the middle of the Mississippi River, and more. Even as Huck lies and cons people in order to survive, he remains a sympathetic character. Readers see how Huck struggles against the hypocrisies of a white Southern Christian society that claims to be moral while allowing children to face parental abuse and Black people to face the horrors of slavery.