In the novel, the theme of appearance vs. reality shows up numerous times through characters who appear to be humble/forgiving/sincere but are really motivated by self-interest. For example, in chapter 11, Huck, who plays Sarah Williams, is invited in by Mrs. Loftus. She asks Huck questions of his origin and mentions some information on Finn and Jim. She says, "Well, you're innocent, ain't you! Does three hundred dollars lay around every day for people to pick up? Some folks think the nigger ain't far from here. I'm one of them -- but I hain't talked it around...Yes. And couldn't the nigger see better, too?After midnight he'll likely be asleep, and they can slip around through the woods and hunt up his camp fire all the better for the dark, if he's got one"(Chapter 11). Though Mrs. Loftus appears to be generous and caring towards Huck, her true intentions are shown by mentioning the "hunt" for Jim as if he was an animal. She is focused on collecting the reward for his capture. Mrs. Loftus is a sharp individual in this novel whose intention is to uncover Huck's true identity and nature. Unfortunately, greed drives many of the characters in the novel.
Another example of duplicity is shown through the appearance of the Duke and King. These two men, who are true charlatans, travel with Huck and Jim taking advantage of the people along the river. In Chapter 20, the Duke and King decide to perform various excerpts from a number of Shakespearean plays. Later, the King announces to a group of people he is an ex-pirate who is trying to get back home, "and his crew was thinned out considerable last spring in a fight, and he was home now to take out some freshmen, and thanks to goodness he'd been robbed last...now, and happy for the first time in his life; and,poor as he was, he was going to start right off and work his way back to the Indian Ocean, and put in therest of his life trying to turn the pirates into the true path;"(Chapter 20). The King does a wonderful job of appealing to the emotions of the masses. By appearing to an individual needing to be "saved," he is able to convince the people to care by providing money for his cause. Also, Twain satirizes the gullibility of the human race in this scene because the people are so quick to take "up a collection." Again, greed is a driving motivator for both the King and Duke.