Discuss Huck Finn's propensity for lying. Why does he tell lies and how successful is he at doing so? Give plenty of examples please. Why might Mark Twain have chosen a hero who tell so many lies...

Discuss Huck Finn's propensity for lying. Why does he tell lies and how successful is he at doing so? Give plenty of examples please. Why might Mark Twain have chosen a hero who tell so many lies and what effect do these lies have on the reader?

Can you also please give me some examples of when he lies too?

Thank you, I have a 3 page essay due on mon.

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Much of the time Huck lies to protect himself against his father, or to protect other people, especially Jim, the runaway slave. In this manner, Twain satirizes the convoluted values of a society that allows an abusive father and justifies slavery, or protects only the wealthy.

---In Chapter XIII, for instance, Huck lies to a watchman on a steamship about a Miss Hooker's being on a horse-ferry, but the oar was lost so the ferry floated downstream until she grabbed onto the wreck of the Walter Scott. Huck further encourages the watchman to retrieve Miss Hooker by telling him that her uncle is wealthy so he will rescue her in hopes of retrieving a reward. This fabrication is made by Huck so that the watchman will actually rescue two robbers on the ship; Huck feels that if he tells the truth, these men who are miscreants will not be saved. Huck is proud of his lie that has done the murderers a good turn:

I wished the widow knowed about it. I judged she would be proud of me for helping these rapscallions, because rapscallions and dead-beats is the kind the widow and good people takes the most interest in.

---In several instances, Huck lies to protect Jim from the laws of society. In Chapter XVI, Huck contemplates turning Jim in as a runaway slave, but when he encounters two gruff men with guns on a skiff, he just cannot let Jim be taken by them, so when they stop and ask him if he has seen any Negroes because five have run off; fearing for him and also recalling how Jim has told him that he is the only white person who has ever been thoughtful of him, Huck simply cannot betray his friend. So, he lies to these men, saying that Jim on the raft is white. Then, the men say they will look for themselves, Huck tells another lie about his father being sick with a contagious disease,

“I reckon we'll go and see for ourselves.”
“I wish you would,” says I, “because it's Pap that's there, and maybe you'd help me tow the raft ashore where the light is. He's sick—and so is mam and Mary Ann.”

When the men hear that others have gone away when he has asked for help, they assume that "Pap" has smallpox; therefore, they guiltily give Huck money, and push off. Huck embellishes his tall-tale with yet another lie, 

“Good-bye, sir,” says I; “I won't let no runaway n---s get by me if I can help it.”

---In Chapter XX, when Huck encounters the King and the Duke, two shysters, he realizes that it is to his advantage to lie about his name and about Jim in order to protect himself and Jim from their devious machinations.

My folks was living in Pike County, in Missouri, where I was born, and they all died off but me and pa and my brother Ike.... Pa was pretty poor, and had some debts; so when he'd squared up there warn't nothing left but sixteen dollars and our nigger, Jim....Well, when the river rose pa had a streak of luck one day; he ketched this piece of a raft; so we reckoned we'd go down to Orleans on it. Pa's luck didn't hold out; a steamboat run over the forrard corner of the raft one night, and we all went overboard and dove under the wheel; Jim and me come up all right, but Pa...and Ike...never come up no more.

--In Chapter XXVII, after Huck has taken the inheritance money that the King has taken and hidden in the straw mattress, he lies about this money in order to be able to return it to Mary Jane. When he is asked where this money is, Huck replies,

“In the bank for to be collected. Where would it be?”
“Well, that's all right then, thank goodness.”
Says I, kind of timid-like:
“Is something gone wrong?”

Huck feels that the King and Duke are thieves and not deserving of the truth about stolen money.

Read the study guide:
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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