47 pages 1 hour read

Mark Twain

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 1884

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Character Analysis

Huckleberry Finn

Huckleberry Finn was first introduced in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer as a figure of excitement, an orphan who was free to follow any promise of adventure presented to him. He also served as an underprivileged but pragmatic foil to Tom Sawyer’s romantic flights of middle-class fancy. Huckleberry, who couldn’t read, interpreted situations literally and with the least application of imagination. He was easily led by Tom Sawyer in the earlier book, and his perspective was filtered through Tom’s. Those traits are repeated in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but their meaning is expanded. In his own book Huck becomes a malleable cipher for other people’s anxieties, schemes, and perceptions, and while Tom’s adventures put the boys in occasional physical danger, Huck’s journey brings him into far greater danger, as much for his soul as for his body.

From the outset, the stakes are high for Huck. He is kidnapped by his father in anticipation of gaining his son’s money for ransom. The result of this is not simply that pap puts Huck in danger of dying, which he does in one drunken instance. He also squanders Huck’s education, “[l]aying off comfortable all day, smoking and fishing, no books to study” (32).