To what does this quote refer? "The Widow Douglas, she took me for her son; the widow she cried over me....... and called me her long lost lamb"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn , chapter 1, Huck introduces the story starting with how he and Tom Sawyer found the money that the robbers kept hidden in the cave, and how they both became very rich.

However, it is a known fact that Huckleberry has no adult guidance. His father is a drunkard, and Huck is seemingly terrified of him. For this reason the Widow Douglas basically adopts him and takes him under her wings. She tries to educate them and reform him, but to no avail. Among the things she tries to do with Huck is to get him to quit smoking, to say his prayers, to have good manners at the table, to dress well, and to quit being mischievous.

However, Huck has other plans, he hides to smoke, always dons his overalls and raggedy clothes, hates having to wait for prayers at the table, and would never stop being a rascal, especially as long as he continues to associate with Tom.

Therefore, what Huck is telling us is that he is aware of all the things the Widow Douglas has tried to do with him and that he is aware of the fact that she is taking the role of a mother for him.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This quote from the first chapter of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn contributes to Mark Twain's satiric humor, setting up his commentary upon the hypocrisy of society.  For, the Widow Douglas, who hugs Huck to her as those he is her long lost son after Huck has amassed a fortune, spends her days trying to save his soul and teach him manners.  She remonstrates against Huck's use of tobacco, but she herself uses snuff.  In addition, through the character of the Widow Douglas, Twain also satirizes the image of the good Christian who prays and speaks in sanctimonious tones while at the same time she condones the practice of keeping slaves, perceiving no evil in this practice.  

The hugging of the widow to Huck also represents the restrictive environment that he finds society to be. As soon as the opportunity arrives, Huck runs off and, then, his great adventures commence.  In Chapter 1, also, the voice of Huck is established; it is rather deadpan, yet there is a subtle irony underneath his mere telling, an irony that Huck does not perceive, but the reader does.

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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