The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Questions and Answers
by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn book cover
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Lying occurs frequently in the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Curiously, some lies, like those Huck tells to save Jim, seem to be bad. What is the difference? Are both wrong? Why does so much lying go on in Huckleberry Finn?

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Huckleberry Finn lies to survive and to help Jim survive. If lying is not ideal, Twain is sympathetic to lies that help a person protect himself or which are told to protect another. He makes it clear that in an immoral society good people often have no choice but to lie if they are to survive.

Some examples of sympathetic lies are as follows: Huck lies by making it look as if he has been murdered so that he can escape a horribly abusive father and start a new life. Huck is deceiving his community, but it is hard to condemn him for this because of what he has suffered and the lack of protection his community offers him. Huck also lies when he dresses up as a girl to go ashore in search of information, but we sympathize with his need to find out what is going on. Huck also constantly lies to protect Jim because he does not want his friend to fall into the hands of evil people only interested in getting the reward money for returning an escaped slave.

Unsympathetic lies are those that are...

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