The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Download The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Chapters 4 and 5 Summary and Analysis

New Characters
Judge Thatcher: former judge who invests Huck’s money for him

Pap: Huck’s father

The new judge: tries to reform Pap

The new judge’s wife: takes Pap into her house

Huck has been going to school for about three or four months and has learned to read and write. Although he plays “hooky” occasionally, he is learning to tolerate school. He is also becoming more comfortable living with the widow.

Huck has almost forgotten his father until one day he sees his footprints in the snow. Pap’s bootheel has left the imprint of a cross made of nails, used to ward off the devil. Afraid his father has come for his money, Huck wastes no time getting to Judge Thatcher’s whom he begs to take the six thousand dollars and one hundred fifty dollars interest. The judge, surprised and puzzled, finally buys the “property” from him for a dollar.

Huck then consults Jim, who relies on his hairball from the stomach of an ox to tell Huck’s fortune. Jim listens while the hairball talks to him, but he does not get a straight answer. Huck’s fears are not unfounded, however; when he goes up to his room, he finds Pap waiting for him. Huck is startled and afraid, but Pap’s dirty, sickly image soon calms his fears, and he speaks right up when his father starts harassing him about his fine clothes and his education. Pap, however, threatens to “take it out of him” for trying to be better than his own father. He grabs the dollar the judge had given Huck, so he can go downtown for some whiskey. He tries to get the rest of Huck’s money from Judge Thatcher, but the judge ignores his request. Later Judge Thatcher and the Widow Douglas go to court to try to win custody of Huck, but the new judge grants custody to Pap. Pap promises to “turn over a new leaf.” The new judge and his wife give him dinner, a new coat, and a clean bed, but he sneaks out in the middle of the night and trades his new coat for a jug of whiskey. He gets drunk, falls off the porch, and breaks his arm.

Discussion and Analysis
Huck is slowly becoming accustomed to the proper dress and manners he had such an aversion to earlier in the novel. Huck’s changed attitude toward school and living in a civilized manner makes his father’s sudden appearance seem even more untimely.

Huck’s fear that his father is back in town drives him to see Judge Thatcher. Huck realizes that...

(The entire section is 673 words.)