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Huckleberry Finn

Huckleberry Finn
Winslow Homer – A huntsman and dogs

Huckleberry “Huck” Finn is the son of the town’s vagrant drunkard, “Pap” Finn. Sleeping on doorsteps when the weather is fair, in empty hogsheads during storms, and living off of what he receives from others, Huck lives the life of a destitute vagabond. “The juvenile pariah of the village” Huck is “idle, and lawless, and vulgar, and bad,” qualities for which he was admired by all the children in the village, although their mothers “cordially hated and dreaded” him.

Huck is an archetypal innocent, able to discover the “right” thing to do despite the prevailing theology and prejudiced mentality of his area. The best example of this is his decision to help Jim escape slavery, even though he believes he will go to hell for it.

He wears the clothes of full-grown men which he received as charity, “he was fluttering with rags.” He has a torn broken hat and his trousers are supported with only one suspender.

Tom’s Aunt Polly calls Huck a “poor motherless thing.” Huck confesses to Tom that he remembers his mother and his parents’ relentless fighting that only abated with her death.

Huck has a carefree life free from societal norms or rules, stealing watermelons and chickens and “borrowing” boats and cigars. Due to his unconventional childhood, Huck has received almost no education. Huck is adopted by the Widow Douglas, who sends him to school in return for his saving her life. He learns enough to be literate and even reads books for entertainment when there isn’t anything else to do.

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