The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

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Chapter 1 Summary and Analysis

New Characters
Huckleberry Finn: the protagonist and narrator

Widow Douglas: Huck’s guardian

Miss Watson: the widow’s sister

Tom Sawyer: Huck’s best friend

Summary
Huck Finn introduces himself as a character who has already appeared in Mark Twain’s earlier novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. He briefly reviews the end of Tom Sawyer’s story, reminding the reader how he and Tom found money that robbers had hidden in a cave. Judge Thatcher has invested the money for them, six thousand dollars apiece in gold, and the interest alone is now worth a dollar a day, a large amount of money at that time.

The Widow Douglas has taken Huck in as her son, and is trying to civilize him by teaching him proper dress and proper manners. To make matters worse, the Widow’s sister, Miss Watson, lives with her and relentlessly nags Huck about his behavior.

Huck is lonely and discouraged despite the Widow Douglas’ efforts to give him a good home. He accidentally kills a spider and is sure it will bring him bad luck. Soon after the clock strikes midnight, Huck sneaks out of his upstairs bedroom window to answer Tom Sawyer’s mysterious call.

Discussion and Analysis
Twain’s choice of a 13-year-old narrator supplies much of the humor in the novel. The narrator, Huck Finn, reports the events and ideas through his own eyes, and often his innocence and truthfulness contrast sharply with the Widow Douglas’ sense of propriety. In the first chapter, Miss Watson holds herself up to Huck as the epitome of a virtuous woman. Although Huck does not see the contradiction between her intolerance of him and her belief that she was going to the “good place” (heaven), he naively replies, “Well, I couldn’t see no advantage in going where she was going, so I made up my mind I wouldn’t try for it.” It is this kind of frankness that allows Twain to comment on the hypocrisy of society through the eyes of a young and innocent...

(The entire section is 515 words.)