The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Additional Characters

Mark Twain

Character Analysis

Huck Finn
Huck Finn is a loner, an adventurer, and the protagonist and narrator of the novel. We see the events of the book through his eyes and learn as he learns about his world and his place in it. Huck is a no-nonsense boy who rebels against the restraints of his society, both in word and in deed; part of his rebellion has racial overtones, making this book controversial both at its time and today.

Huck is the 13-year-old son of St. Petersburg, Missouri’s town drunk, an abusive man who seems to care little for anything but the bottle. After one beating too many, Huck finally leaves their shack on the banks of the Mississippi River to find another world. But despite his “street smarts,” Huck is vulnerable to the characters he meets on his journey down the river – only Jim, the escaped slave who is vulnerable in his own way, treats Huck as an equal. The “schooling” Huck has received is spotty at best, unlike that of a Tom Sawyer. Although the Widow Douglas tries to “civilize” him, it’s in Huck’s nature to be wild, at least within the confines of his world. Out in the “real world,” Huck is forced to think for himself and make difficult choices, often outthinking the adults who seem to be taking advantage of his youth and inexperience.

Huck’s youth is what enables him to get away with his actions and the change of attitude he undergoes in the novel – an adult like Mark Twain couldn’t question his society and its morals without social stigma and closed minds. Through the voice of a child, wild though he may be, Twain is allowed to challenge accepted norms of power, race, religion and humanity in his society. Stealing Jim is a crime, yet freeing him, from Huck’s perspective, is the right thing to do. When Huck lies to the slave-hunters he is forced to reevaluate his position on lying – is it always wrong, or does the morality of helping Jim find a normal life make it all right?

Huck’s imperfections offer a model for readers – if he can resist “civilization” and become a fully realized human being, perhaps we can, too. His questions become our own, and although he is very much a product of his time, Huck is a symbol of sorts for the kind of future Mark Twain imagines.

Jim
Jim is a paradoxical figure in Huckleberry Finn – he is at once...

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Characters

(Novels for Students)

Aunt Polly
Tom Sawyer's guardian. She arrives at the Phelps's farm and reveals Tom and Huck's true identities.

Aunt Sally
See Mrs. Sally Phelps

Boggs
During his travels with the King and Duke in "Arkansaw," Huck meets Boggs, a drunk in Bricksville. Boggs continually curses at townspeople, and despite several warnings, he provokes the wrath of Colonel Sherburn and is killed by him.

Widow Douglas
The Widow Douglas has adopted Huck and attempts to provide a stable home for him. She sends him to school and reads the Bible to him. Although at first Huck finds life with Widow Douglas restrictive, eventually he gets "sort of used to the widow's ways, too, and they warn't so raspy on me." Later, when Huck refers to her, she represents all that is good and decent to him. Nevertheless, at the close of the novel Huck decides to "light out for the Territory" instead of returning to her home.

The Duke
On their journey down the Mississippi, Huck and Jim pick up two con men who claim to be descendants of royalty. The Duke is a young, poorly dressed man of about thirty. Although they had never met before, the King and Duke soon join forces to concoct a number of scams to play on the innocent inhabitants of the various towns along the riverbanks. Even though he is aware of their true characters, Huck plays along—he has little choice, since the two men are stronger and can turn Jim in at any time. Eventually, however, Huck betrays them when they scheme to cheat the Wilks sisters out of their inheritance. The King and Duke later turn Jim in for a meager reward. The men later get their reward when they are tarred and feathered by an angry crowd. With these two characters, Twain ridicules the aristocratic pretensions of some Americans.

Huck Finn
See Huckleberry Finn

Huckleberry Finn
The narrator and hero of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is the title character, the fourteen-year-old son of the town drunk who was introduced in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. At the end of that book, Huck was adopted by the Widow Douglas and her sister Miss Watson, who brought him to live in town where he could attend church and school. But at the beginning of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, we learn that their attempts to "sivilize" him have been only partially successful. Huck learns to read and write, but he continues to climb out of his window at night to meet up with Tom Sawyer's gang.

Huck's life in town is abruptly ended when his father returns and kidnaps him, hoping to lay his hands on Huck's fortune. But Huck escapes by faking his own death, and he heads to Jackson's Island. There he meets up with Jim, Miss Watson's slave, who has run away because of her threat to sell him "down the river." The two of them embark on a journey down the Mississippi River and live a life of freedom on the raft, which has become their refuge from society. On their trip, Huck confronts the ethics he has learned from society that tell him Jim is only property and not a human being. By this moral code, his act of helping Jim to escape is a sin. Rather than betray Jim, though, Huck decides, "All right, then, I'll go to hell." Huck learns to decide for himself in various situations the right thing to do.

In the last third of the book, Huck defers to Tom Sawyer, whose outlandish schemes to free Jim direct the action. Huck is no longer in charge, and his moral quest appears to have been abandoned. But once Jim is freed, Huck decides he will "light out for the Territory" to escape the civilizing influence of another mother figure, this time Tom's Aunt Sally. For some critics, this decision redeems Huck from the charge that he has allowed Tom to distract him from discovering his inner code of ethics. To others, it means that Twain sees no hope for civilization to redeem itself: because it cannot rid itself of fundamental failures like slavery, someone like Huck must escape its influence altogether.

Pap Finn
Huck's father, Pap, is an irredeemable drunk who schemes to get Huck's fortune away from him. When he returns to find Huck living at the Widow Douglas's and going to school, he accuses Huck of trying to be better than his father. Pap kidnaps Huck and brings him to a cabin in the woods where he beats his son and confines him to their shack. Pap also submits Huck to his drunken tirades against a free black man, reflecting the attitudes poor southern whites had about blacks who had the right to vote and were highly educated. Shortly after Huck escapes, Pap is killed, although Huck does not learn this until the end of the book.

The Grangerfords
Huck is taken in by the Grangerfords after the raft is broken up by a larger boat on the river. The family is wealthy and Huck is impressed by their gaudily decorated home, although the reader is aware of their...

(The entire section is 2096 words.)