"yet finding a power of fault with me for doing a thing that had some good in it." chap.1 p8 line 11. What does "power of fault" mean ?.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn By Samuel Clemens.
Norton Critical Edition
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In this first chapter of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck introduces himself to the reader. In addition, he introduces the Widow Douglas with whom he lives. However, each time that Huck describes her positively, he also has a negative remark. For instance, he first narrates that she has taken him in as her son with the intention of civilizing him,
but it was rough living in the house all the time, considering how dismal regular and decent the widow was in all ways.
After he runs away, she cries and calls him a "poor lost lamb,"
and she called me a lot of other names, too, but she never meant no harm by it.
Then, when Huck wants to smoke, Widow Douglas tells him it is a mean practice and unclean. This upsets Pip because she is concerned about Moses, when he is dead, but finds "a power of fault" with Huck for doing a thing that "had some good in it." And, besides,
she took snuff too; of course that was all right, because she done it herself.
It would seem, therefore, that Widow Douglas, like so many self-righteous Christians, has double standards. According to Huck, the Widow has some kindness, but she acts righteous at the end of each conflict, wishing to maintain control. So, in her fault-finding, she reclaims a certain power.
This line is spoken by Huck and so it reflects the dialect in which he speaks. In the dialect of this time and place, the word "power" meant something like "a great deal" or "a lot." So the meaning of this line in our modern English is that she found a great deal of fault (of things that were wrong) in Huck. Put differently, she was too critical of him (he thinks) -- she thinks that something (his smoking) is very bad even when it really is not.
This is referring to the attitude of the Widow with regard to Huck. She wants to reform him and make him more of what she thinks a Christian should be like. But he thinks that she finds too much fault in what he is doing so he does not like her efforts.
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