The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Questions and Answers
by Mark Twain

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Who was the "juvenile pariah of the village" in " The Adventures of Tom Sawyer"? 

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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A juvenile is an old-fashioned word for a teenager or young adult. And a pariah is an outcast from society. Both of these descriptions are entirely appropriate for Huckleberry Finn. Huck's not a bad kid, by any means, but he has one serious failing in the eyes of St. Petersburg townsfolk: he's not respectable. Without a regular place to call home or a family to take care of him, Huck's cut off from the normal bonds that bind people together in society.

This makes him an object of suspicion in town; to the adults, at any rate. His presence acts as a constant, unwelcome reminder of all the things that grown-ups hate and from which they try to protect their children. Yet ironically, Huck's marginalization serves to encourage those very characteristics in him that adults in town find so threatening. As they won't accept him, he has no choice but to lead the kind of life that everyone seems to find so shocking, a life that though lacking in material goods and stability, has more freedom than the so-called respectable folk in town will ever know.

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The "juvenile pariah of the village" was Huckleberry Finn, the son of the town drunkard.  Huckleberry

"was always dressed in the castoff clothes of full-grown men"...(and he) came and went, at his own free will...slept on doorsteps in fine weather and in empty hogsheads in wet...he did not have to got to school or to church, or call any being master or obey anybody...nobody forbade him to fight...he could sit up as late as he pleased...he never had to wash, nor put on clean clothes...he could swear wonderfully".

In a word, Huck basically raised himself, and grew up running wild.  All the mothers of the town "hated and dreaded (him)...because he was idle and lawless and vulgar and bad", and they forbade their children to play with him because they were afraid he would be a bad influence on them.  The children, of course, all loved Huckleberry and the carefree world he represented, and they played with him every chance they got (Chapter VI).

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