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In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, how does Huck feel about Mary Jane?

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crazycraze3 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 31, 2010 at 6:16 AM via web

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In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, how does Huck feel about Mary Jane?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 31, 2010 at 6:33 AM (Answer #1)

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You are talking here about Mary Jane Wilks who shows up in Chapters 25 through 29.  I would say that Huck really likes both her and her sisters and that he thinks that they are very nice, kind people.

Huck seems to be particularly taken by Mary Jane's beauty but also by the grace and kindness with which she behaves.  He repeatedly mentions how doing things beatifully was just her way -- just natural for her.  He is especially impressed when she scolds Joanna for making him feel bad.  He had been lying to Joanna and she caught him at it, but Mary Jane told her to stop making him feel bad -- that she needed to make him feel welcome no matter what.

It is at this point that Huck says something very telling.  Here is the quote with the first statement being Mary Jane's and the second being Huck's:

"It don't make no difference what he said -- that ain't the thing. The thing is for you to treat him kind, and not be saying things to make him remember he ain't in his own country and amongst his own folks."

I says to myself, this is a girl that I'm letting that old reptile rob her of her money!

So Huck is very taken by what a good person Mary Jane is and he thinks very highly of her.

For whatever reason, I am not being able to paste in the link to this quote.  If you want to follow it, it is

http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/etcbin/toccer-new2?id=Twa2Huc.sgm&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&tag=public&part=26&division=div1

Or you can just go to

http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/Twa2Huc.html

And go to Ch. 26.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 31, 2010 at 6:58 AM (Answer #2)

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It is Chapter 26 when we are given the clearest indication of how Huck feels about Mary Jane, and interestingly this also marks an important stepping stone for Huck's personal development concerning his sense of what is right and wrong, because he finally stands up and acts for what he thinks is right, instead of just observing passively the Duke and the King and their scams, and acts to help Mary Jane.

In Chapter 26 Huck feels increasingly uncomfortable because the girls of the Wilks family are so nice to him. Although Joe begins to doubt Huck's ever more fanciful descriptions of life in England, after Mary Jane rebukes her for her treatment of a guest, Huck is shamed to see how good Mary Jane is. Note what he says after this episode:

I says to myself, this is a girl that I'm letting that old reptle rob her of her money!

Huck goes on to describe their behaviour towards him:

And when she got through they all jest laid theirselves out to make me feel at home and know I was amongst friends. I felt so ornery and low down and mean that I says to myself, my mind's made up; I'll hive that money for them or bust.

The essential goodness of Mary Jane therefore acts as a moral catalyst to Huck, making him defiantly decide to challenge the Duke and the King, standing up for what he believes he is right rather than just watching more victims being fleeced by their schemes.

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