The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Characters
The main characters in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are Huckleberry Finn, Jim, Tom Sawyer, Pap, and the Widow Douglas.
- Huckleberry Finn, called Huck, is an adventurous boy who escapes his abusive father.
- Jim is an escaped slave who joins Huck on his journey down the Mississippi River.
- Tom Sawyer is Huck's best friend; he appears at the end of the novel.
- Pap is Huck's abusive father, whose behavior motivates Huck's escape.
- The Widow Douglas is Huck's guardian, who tries to teach him manners.
Last Updated on February 25, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1026
Huck is the protagonist and narrator, and the entire book is in his voice. He is intelligent and skeptical, though also innocent and ignorant. One of his most remarkable attributes, very useful in an adventurer, is his adaptability to new circumstances. Even being captured, imprisoned, and beaten by his alcoholic father does not phase him very much. Huck is loyal and honorable but only narrowly avoids being corrupted by the society in which he lives into betraying his friend Jim, since he has been trained to consider helping a runaway slave as “stealing.” His essential decency is illustrated when he decides that he will risk hellfire out of loyalty to Jim.
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Tom is the protagonist of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Twain’s earlier book featuring Huckleberry Finn. However, he plays a relatively minor role in this story, being present only at the beginning and the end. Tom’s romantic nature acts as a foil for Huck’s more pragmatic disposition. Although he likes to think of himself, and is generally considered, as a free spirit, Tom is actually much more concerned than Huck with doing everything in the proper manner, according to the books he has read.
Jim is honest, kindhearted, and completely loyal. He is sometimes hurt by Huck’s failure to understand him and his recklessness in situations where Jim has to be cautious, since the consequences of being caught are so much more serious for him, as an escaped slave, than they are for Huck. He is not without intelligence but is completely uneducated and rather credulous. Although Huck is not much more educated than Jim, he is much more critical and skeptical.
Pap is Huck’s father, a foul-tempered, abusive alcoholic. He is angry at his son’s good fortune in acquiring wealth and determined that Huck should not be educated or better himself in any way.
The Widow Douglas
The Widow Douglas is a highly respectable and wealthy woman, one of the leading citizens in the small town of St. Petersburg. She makes it her mission to civilize and educate Huck.
Miss Watson is the sister of the Widow Douglas. She, too, wants to educate Huck and bring him into polite society, but she is a harsher character than the Widow Douglas, more inclined to scold Huck than to indulge and cajole him. Jim is her slave.
Judge Thatcher is a successful lawyer who takes charge of Huck’s money for him. Like the Widow Douglas, he represents the highest and most respectable society in St. Petersburg.
Judith Loftus has recently moved to St. Petersburg. However, when Huck questions her, she seems well-acquainted with all the gossip of the town. She quickly sees through Huck’s disguise and guesses that he is running away, but she does not attempt to stop him and even sends him away with a snack. She has no such sympathy for Jim, whom she sees only as the potential source of a reward.
Colonel Grangerford is the perfect Southern gentleman. He is wealthy, courteous, perfectly dressed in snow-white linen, and possessed of a commanding presence. However, he is obsessed with his family’s senseless feud against the Shepherdsons.
Buck Grangerford is the youngest son of the Grangerford family. He is about the same age as Huck and quickly befriends him, explaining the feud, in which he participates eagerly.
Sophia Grangerford is the kindly and beautiful daughter of Colonel Grangerford, who defies her family by running away to marry Harney Shepherdson.
The Duke of Bridgewater
The real name of this character is unknown, but he claims to be the rightful heir to an English dukedom. He is about thirty, raggedly dressed, and an unprincipled scoundrel who makes his living through various scams, which he practices upon people in small towns as he travels around the country. Although he has many of these, his favorite occupation is acting.
The Dauphin of France
The Dauphin is about seventy and is similar in character to the Duke, though he gradually shows himself to be even more unprincipled, as well as greedier. He is visibly irritated by the attention and deference with which Huck and Jim treat the younger man when he claims to be a Duke and decides to invent an even more distinguished background for himself as the son of King Louis XVI and therefore the Crown Prince, or “Dauphin,” of France. Huck, who, earlier in the book, refers to a real French dauphin as the “dolphin” (a literal translation of his title), refers to him simply as “the king.”
Boggs is a pitiful old drunkard who is always threatening to kill someone or other with whom he has a quarrel but never does it. He finally picks a quarrel with Colonel Sherburn, who shoots him.
Colonel Sherburn is well-dressed, gentlemanly in manner, and obviously the social superior of everyone else in the small town where he lives. He is contemptuous of the townspeople and, when they threaten to lynch him, coolly tells them they are too cowardly to do so, in which assessment he is correct.
Dr. Robinson treated the deceased man, Peter Wilks, whose brothers are impersonated by the Duke and the Dauphin. He is immediately suspicious of the two men and denounces them as imposters.
Mary Jane Wilks
Mary Jane is the eldest daughter of Peter Wilks. She is beautiful and kindhearted, qualities which move Huck to feel guilty for his complicity with the Duke and the Dauphin and to tell her the truth.
Silas Phelps is Tom Sawyer’s uncle, the owner of a small cotton plantation. He is kindly and hospitable to Huck and Tom, but these qualities do not extend to his treatment of Jim. In this, he is a fairly typical example of a Southern farmer.
Sally Phelps is Silas’s wife and shares his characteristics. It is she who first mistakes Huck for Tom Sawyer.
Aunt Polly is Tom’s long-suffering guardian, who arrives at the end of the book to take him back to St. Petersburg. She is old-fashioned and simple-minded and has long experience of Tom’s tricks.