Huck Finn
Notes:
Character, Setting, Theme
Satire, Symbols
1
Satire
Literary
Religious
Societal
2
Literary Satire

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Tom’s imaginary
adventures
He insists on doing all
things according to the
books he has read


Have his gang sign in blood
their oath of allegiance
Capture and hold people for
ransom even though Tom
doesn’t know what it
means: “I don’t know…I’ve
seen it in books…that’s
what we’ve got to do”.
3
Religious Satire – Twain denounces organized
religion with several references

Huck prays for fish hooks


The Widow Douglas


tells Huck about the “good place” and teaches him about
the bible but later on they “fetched the niggers in and had
prayers…”
The raid on the Sunday school picnic


because Miss Watson told him whatever he prayed for he
would get
Tom said it was Arabs and Spanish merchants while Huck
says to himself afterwards that it was only a “primer class”
Hypocrisy of the Gangerfords and Shepherdsons

the sermon is on brotherly love; they bring their guns to
church and prop them against the wall
4
Societal Satire

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Twain criticizes a society which forces a son to obey such a
corrupt and evil person as Pap
Satirizes American values; society is more interested in a dead
body ( Huck ) than it is in the welfare of living people ( Huck )
Huck’s conscience tells him that Jim is corrupt to think of
stealing his own children from another man
Feuds are satirized: Buck wants to kill a man, not because he
carries any hostility towards him,, but because his family is
feuding with the other’s family
He exposes slavery and shows blacks to have feelings just like
others, especially in the episode where Jim tells Huck about his
daughter
Twain shows an aversion to royalty with the adventures of the
Duke and the King
5
Literary Satire

Emmeline Grangerford’s sentimental poetry
for dead people


If Emmeline Grangerford could make poetry like
that before she was fourteen, there ain’t no telling
what she could ‘a done by and by”.
The wreck the Walter Scott – sentimental
British writer; Twain names the wreck after
the writer
6
Setting – contrast of the river and shore

The river

Where Huck and Jim feel safest

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
“We said there warn’t no home like a raft, after all.”
“You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a
raft.”
Where Huck and Jim develop a friendship



They can think for themselves
No authority
Huck is brave enough to break with what others assume
is correct and just.
7
Setting – on shore

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
Shore is oppressive compared to the freedom
of the river
Where Huck sees the hypocrisy of society
Huck and Jim


encounter slavery, deception and another side of
civilization on shore
See social injustices



The trickery and cheating of the King and Duke
The lack of caring by the townspeople for Boggs
The innocence of the Wilks sisters
8
Huck’s Character: shrewd, gullible and
compassionate

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An uneducated backward boy
Constantly under pressure to conform to society
Has racist attitudes at first
Tries to find freedom
He learns to think and reason for himself
Develops empathy for Jim – decides not to turn him in and with
Jim’s fate in his hands, he decides to “give up try’in” ( smallpox
incident )
But follows Tom Sawyer when he reappears – he is easily
molded and his morals and empathy fail him
The only time his morality and loyalty to Jim are clear is when he
makes decisions alone with only his heart guiding him
9
Huck’s Developing Character

Initial Character

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Follows Tom
Looks down on Jim
Believes society more important than human
feelings
Goes along with King and Duke
Loses his identity
10
Huck’s Developing Character

Forces of Change

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Sees Tom’s unrealistic nature
Grows to know and care for Jim
Observes the bloody feud
Unable to betray Jim
Travels down the river with Jim
11
Huck’s Developing Character

Character Change
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Follows his own ideas
Respects Jim
Realizes the stupid savagery inside
Believes human feelings more important than
society
Sympathizes with all humanity
Gains a new sense of self
12
Theme Growing up and maturing


Huck takes care of himself
Although young, he faces many adult situations

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i.e an abusive father, Jim’s freedom; confessing to the Wilks
The feud between the Grangerfords and Sheperdsons is one
of the most tragic things in the book; he sees blood and dying
that nauseated him
The cowardice of the mob that goes after Colonel Sheburn
and how they only gain courage borrowed from their mass
He feels bad for the King and Duke when they are tarred and
feathered by the townspeople. His ill feelings toward them
melt away: “Human beings can be awful cruel to one another”,
he observes. He concludes that a conscience is useless
because it makes you feel bad no matter what you do.
13
Theme Learning to think and reason morally for oneself

Huck develops a moral conscience


Huck struggles with obeying the law and turning Jim in or
risk having a bad reputation and protect Jim

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
He apologizes to Jim for fooling him about the dream
He fears he may have done wrong in helping a slave to
escape. His traditions and environment pull him one way;
what he feels in his heart pulls him another way.
He feels better after he writes the letter to Miss Watson but
tears it up and says, “All right, then, I’ll go to hell”.
His idea of racism is based on his upbringing but he
questions the validity of black inferiority

Huck admits that Jim “had an uncommon head for a nigger”.
14
Theme The quest for freedom

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Jim seeks freedom from slavery – he runs away
when he hears Miss Watson talking of selling him
“down the river”
Jim can’t do anything against the rules of his
taboos, superstitions and charms


The hairball, the snake-skin
Huck seeks to be free and not have to live in fear
of his father, or being civilized
15
Symbols in the Novel
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The River
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Jim

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Symbolizes all the slaves in the south; we see the southern
attitudes toward black people; we also see through Jim the
humanity even in slaves
Widow Douglas and Miss Watson


Freedom for Huck and Jim
Symbolize society and civilization; they tried to civilize Huck
but he ran away from them
The Raft
Grangerfords and Shepherdsons
The King and Duke
16