On Motive, Moral and Plot

Mark Twain posted the following warning among the front matter of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,

PERSONS attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.

I was reminded of this the other day when an acquaintance asked me about my blog.
By the way, and this has nothing at all to do with this blog, it’s not clear who Twain had in mind when he called upon the authority of G.G., Chief of Ordnance. Robert Hirst of the Mark Twain Project at the Bancroft Library, following Lin Salamo, speculates that it was George Griffin, the Clemens’ butler. Many scholars once believed Twain was thinking of General Ulysses S. Grant. But, as Hirst says,

In short, Griffin was an ideal Chief of Ordnance to sign the ironic warning about taking Huckleberry Finn seriously, especially in matters of race. Here was a freed slave, who had served the Union army in the Civil War, threatening to prosecute, banish, or simply shoot whoever dared to find a Motive, Moral, or Plot in a book that was in fact profoundly critical of slavery and nineteenth-century American racism.