The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Summary and Analysis
by Mark Twain
"When we was ready to shove off we was a quarter of a mile below the island, and it was pretty broad day; so I made Jim lay down in the canoe and cover up with a quilt, because if he set up people could tell he was a nigger a good ways off." -Pg. 58
Here, Huck incorrectly assumes that people can distinguish a black person from a white person from a significant distance. At this point, he still holds the belief that blacks are essentially different from whites.
"His foot swelled up pretty big, and so did his leg; but by and by the drunk begun to come, and so I judged he was all right; but I'd druther been bit with a snake than pap's whisky."
Huck is inadvertently demonstrating how little he cares for his Pap, by saying he'd rather be bitten by a snake than be drunk off Pap's whisky.
"...he judged it was all up with him anyway it could be fixed; for if he didn't get saved he would get drownded; and if he did get saved, whoever saved him would send him back home so as to get the reward, and then Miss Watson would sell him South, sure. Well, he was right; he was most always right; he had an uncommon level head for a nigger." -Pg. 81
Raised in Southern slave owning society, Huck joins in the common belief that blacks are less intelligent than whites. Therefore, he seems astonished that Jim has such a "level head".
'I bet you can't spell my name,' says I.
'I bet you what you dare I can', says he.
'All right,' says I, 'go ahead.'
'G-e-o-r-g-e J-a-x-o-n-there now,' he says.
'Well,' says I, 'you done it, but I didn't think you could.
It ain't no slouch of a name to spell-right off without studying.'
I set down, private, because somebody might want me to spell it next, and so I wanted to be handy with it and rattle it off like I was used to it." -Pg. 103
Ironically, Buck misspells Huck's pseudonym, and Huck memorizes the misspelling in case someone asks him about it.
"Each person had their own nigger to wait on them-Buck too. My nigger had a monstrous easy time, because I warn't used to having anybody do anything for me, but Buck's was on the jump most of the time." -Pg. 109
Most people in Huck's place would have loved having a personal servant, but Huck is uncomfortable, and refuses to take advantage of the man assigned to him. Although he does adhere to aspects of racism ingrained in him due to his upbringing, he has more respect for blacks than most Southerners of the time.
..."we was always naked, day and night, whenever the mosquitoes would let us-the new clothes Buck's folks made for me was too good to be comfortable, and besides I didn't go much on clothes, nohow." -Pg. 121
Again, Huck is offered the chance to assimilate with mainstream society, but eschews it in favor of comfortable, free living.
"The minute he was on, the horse begun to rip and tear and jump and cavort around...It warn't funny to me, though; I was all of a tremble to see his danger." -Pg. 149
Huck is the only person in the crowd with the sense to worry about the safety of the drunkard on the horse. Even though he's a runaway, Huck is morally superior and more aware than the common people who surround him in this scene.
"He said it was a sight better than lying tied a couple of years every day, and trembling all over every time there was a sound." -Pg. 157
Jim is wearing clothes for which he is ridiculed as a freak, but to him, ridicule is far better than being tied up and left alone.
"...every woman, nearly, went up to the girls, without saying a word, and kissed them, solemn, on the forehead, and then put their hand on their head, and looked up towards the sky, with the tears running down, and then busted out and went off sobbing and swabbing, and give the next woman a show. I never see anything so disgusting." -Pg. 163
Huck seriously dislikes fake and contrived people, and the act these women are putting on frustrates him to no end. Although they are weeping, Huck is actually a more sensitive and honest person.
"I says to myself, I reckon a body that ups and tells the truth when he is in a tight place is taking considerable many resks, though I ain't had no experience, and can't say for certain; but it looks so to me, anyway..." -Pg. 184
Here, Huck is honest about his dishonesty.
"'Some think old Finn done it himself... But before night they changed around and judged it was done by a runaway nigger named Jim.'" -Pg. 83
In this quote, Twain demonstrates that when crimes occurred, blacks were immediately blamed before whites.
"We could sell the raft and get on a steamboat and go way up the Ohio amongst the free states, and then be out of trouble." -Pg. 85
Huck believes his and Jim's lives will be perfect if they are able to get down the river, but in reality, there's no way of knowing whether they might end up worse off than when they started.
"There warn't nothing to do now but to look out sharp for the town, and not pass it without seeing it. He said he'd be mighty sure to see it, because he'd be a free man the minute he seen it, but if he missed it he'd be in a slave country again and no more show for freedom." -Pp. 91-92
Jim believes he will be free only if they land in Cairo, but in fact, he will still be oppressed by whites. Jim bases his self-worth on the dollar, and it seems that "freedom" is not a state of mind, but rather a state of the Union.
"'See? He'll be drownded, and won't have nobody to blame for it but his own self. I reckon that's a considerable sight better'n killin' of him. I'm unfavorable to killin' a man as long as you can git aroun' it; it ain't good sense, it ain't good morals. Ain't I right?'"
This misguided man judges it a lesser crime to let a man drown than to kill him outright. Here, Twain satirizes the idiocy and cruelty of human society.
"They asked us considerable many questions; wanted to know what we covered up the raft that way for, and laid by in the daytime instead of running-was Jim a runaway nigger? Says I:
'Goodness sakes, would a runaway nigger run south?'
No, they allowed he wouldn't." -Pg. 127
Huck uses his own mistake to cover up their scheme. He wasn't intentionally going south; but had made a wrong turn.
"This is the speech-I learned it, easy enough, while he was learning it to the king:
To be or not to be; that is the bare bodkin
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would fardels bear..."
Huck, while being impressed to no end with the actors, has gotten the soliloquy entirely wrong, yet another demonstration of his inability to become a member of "civilized" society.
"Then at the bottom was the biggest line of all, which said: LADIES AND CHILDREN NOT ADMITTED 'There,' says he, 'if that line don't fetch them, I don't know Arkansaw!' -Pg. 150
The duke recognizes and profits from the locals' ignorance and attraction to crass humor.
"'But Huck, dese kings o' ourn is reglar rapscallions; dat's jist what dey is; dey's reglar rapscallions.'
'Well, that's what I'm a-saying; all kings is mostly rapscallions as fur as I can make out.'
'Is dat so?'
'You read about them once-you'll see. Look at Henry the Eight; this 'n' 's a Sunday-school Superintendent to him.'" -Pg. 153
Huck is under the impression that all kings, or authority figures, for that matter, are corrupt and cruel because of a few examples that have supported this theory. Therefore, their "king's" actions seem minor in comparison to the massive corruption Huck expects.
"'How is servants treated in England? Do they treat 'em better 'n we treat our niggers?'
'No! A servant ain't nobody there. They treat them worse than dogs.'" -Pg. 172
At this point in America history, slaves were often treated worse than dogs. Throughout the novel, Huck is the only person to acknowledge this unfairness.
"'Set down, my boy; I wouldn't strain myself if I was you. I reckon you ain't used to lying, it don't seem to come handy; what you want is practice. You do it pretty awkward.'" -Pg. 196
Throughout the novel, Huck has survived through lies and dishonesty. Here, he is in the middle of telling one lie when caught in another.
"'But answer me only jest this one more-now don't get mad; didn't you have it in your mind to hook the money and hide it?'
The duke never said nothing for a little bit; then he says:
'Well, I don't care if I did, I didn't do it, anyway. But you not only had it in mind to do it, but you done it.'" -Pg. 203
The duke seems guilty about even wanting to commit the crime, while the king, who committed the act, is accusatory.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Essays and Related Content
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- Mark Twain: Biography
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Summary
- About The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
- Character List
- Major Themes
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 1 to Chapter 5
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 6 to Chapter 10
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 11 to Chapter 15
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 16 to Chapter 20
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 21 to Chapter 25
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 26 to Chapter 30
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 31 to Chapter 35
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 36 to Chapter 40
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 41 to Chapter 43
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