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Virtually all of Chapter 11 of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has a satiric flavor to it. From the time that Huck enters the woman's cabin dressed ridiculously as a young girl, the conversation takes a humorous turn.
THE SLY PAP FINN. The women tells Huck--who, dressed as a girl, has identified himself/herself as Sarah Williams--that ol' Pap Finn has planned the entire episode and that he will probably return in a year to claim Huck's inheritance.
"Oh, he's sly, I reckon. If he don't come back for a year he'll be all right. You can't prove anything on him, you know; everything will be quieted down then, and he'll walk in Huck's money as easy as nothing.”
HUCK LOSES HIS NERVE. Huck (or Sarah) is so nervous while listening to the woman's story that he picks up a needle and thread and, with a very unsteady hand, unsuccessfully attempts to thread the needle. Flustered, when she asks him what his name is he incorrectly answers "Mary Williams."
Somehow it didn't seem to me that I said it was Mary before, so I didn't look up—seemed to me I said it was Sarah; so I felt sort of cornered, and was afeared maybe I was looking it, too. I wished the woman would say something more; the longer she set still the uneasier I was.
RAMPANT RATS & YARNS. Then the woman tells about how things there are so bad that the rats are in charge. Sure enough, one sticks his head out "every little while." She provided Huck with a twisted piece of lead with which to hit them; meanwhile, she uses Huck's upraised arms to begin her yarning. Twain has a bit of fun with the word play about rats (live ones and human ones) and yarn (another word for tall tales).
WOMANLY ADVICE FOR A RUNAWAY 'PRENTICE. The woman realizes that Huck is no girl, but she also assumes that Huck is a runaway apprentice, mistreated by his master. The flustered Huck decides to play along with her imagined story, since he doesn't have a better one to tell.
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