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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

by Mark Twain

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How does Twain use weather as a motif and mood contributor in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?

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In Mark Twain's American classic, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, weather is certainly employed to portend the danger in which Jim and Huck find themselves in the company of the King and the Duke.  And, nefarious as they are, the King and the Duke use the weather as an excuse for their own selfish motives, investigating the raft:

Towards night it begun to darken up and look like rain; the heat lightning was squirting around, low down in the sky, and the leaves ws beginning to shiver--it was going to be pretty ugly, it was easy to see that.  So the duke and the king went to overhauling our wigwam, to see what the beds was like.

The two men, who represent life on the road (and sometimes a raft) in which innocents are taken advantage of and just about anything can happen, also exploit Jim and Huck by sleeping in their beds and telling them that they must keep watch on the raft. As they do so, Huck and Jim are nearly killed by the storm by being struck by lightning or by being swept off the raft.  Huck narrates,

The waves most washed me off the raft, sometimes....the lightning was glaring and flittering around so constant....

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In chapter 20 of the novel, Huck and Jim are keeping watch at night during a storm. The Duke and Daupin sleep in their beds. This contributes to the mood in two ways. First of all, the storm is a threat to the characters' safety. While Huck and Jim are keeping storm watch (with Jim protecting Huck, as usual), the two con artists are asleep in Jim's and Huck's beds. Secondly, this adds to the mood because it foreshadows how the two crooks will continue to use Huck and Jim as the novel progresses. By sleeping in their beds, we realize that these two crooks are out for themselves and care nothing for Huck and Jim. The author begins to develop a mood of fear surrounding the Duke and Dauphin. As long as they are in the story, Jim and Huck are in danger - not only from the weather, but from the people that are tricked and conned. So the storm is symbolic of danger in this instance and also adds to the sense of danger the reader gets with each new scheme of the crooks.

Other teachers may remember additional examples. You can read about it here on eNotes.

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