In Chapter 32, what lie does Huck tell to explain his late arrival?
When Huck is mistaken for Tom Sawyer by Aunt Sally, Huck is ready with one of his famous lies. Huck is “quick on his feet” when it comes to being able to adapt to any situation. It is also at the beginning of this episode with the Phelps that we once again see Huck change his identity on shore like he does whenever he is confronted by society along the river. Huck must give up who he really is and become someone else because of his inability to fit in and go along with society’s values and beliefs. Huck is also worried that he and Jim (who is supposedly at the Phelps’ farm) will be caught, so he goes along with Aunt Sally who presumes Huck is her nephew, Tom, who is overdue for a visit.
When Aunt Sally asks Huck why he is late, Huck tells her that the steamboat he was on ran aground. Aunt Sally asks Huck if anyone was hurt, and Huck says, “No m’am, just a nigger.”
Huck’s response to Aunt Sally’s question is heartbreaking for the reader because it looks like Huck has reverted back to his old ways even after pledging he will go to hell before he turns Jim in to Miss Watson. However, Huck is pretending to be Tom, and it is probably a typical response Tom would make if asked the same question.