What stereotypical role do woman take on in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The book was written in a time when women were not considered equal citizens to men, so during the story the women are seen in roles that were considered "correct" for the time. Women cook, clean, and act as teachers and moral guardians in society. Interestingly, Twain depicts women as being generally more moral than men, since they care more about their families, while the men are generally more concerned with material wealth and comfort.

Her sister, Miss Watson, a tolerable slim old maid, with goggles on, had just come to live with her, and took a set at me now with a spelling-book.
(Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, gutenberg.org)

Huck has no real need to either empathize or pander to women, since he believes that adults of both genders are restrictive. He observes that women are often the influence behind the more powerful men, but that they stay in the background. However, it is also interesting to note that the major influences on Huck's life -- leaving aside his father -- are female, and that the immediate families of his friends (such as Tom Sawyer) are often composed of "Aunts" instead of "Mothers."

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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