The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn


An Analysis of Major Characters

Huck Finn—Huck takes a number of aliases throughout the novel, whether George Jackson, Mary Sarah Williams, or Tom Sawyer himself. The reason for maintaining these different identities is clear to Huck: sometimes it takes a little deception to make one’s way through life. Gradually, however, this notion is challenged as Huck repeatedly confronts his own conscience and tries to come to terms with it and the evils of the world. Huck even begins to experiment with truth toward the end of the novel before Tom Sawyer’s arrival. He shows a trust in Providence that the Widow Douglas would be proud to see and an irresistible love for others that has all the characteristics of charity itself.

All-in-all, Huck is a good-natured boy, whose age and naivety is no match for his practicality, maturity, and ability to adapt to any and all circumstances. Huck is, in one sense, a true frontiersman. In another, he is the soul of every true-blooded American who has cringed at the oppressive laws and customs of a hypocritical society. While Huck accepts that the laws and stipulations that society has devised are just, he concludes that he cannot follow them—even if it means that he must go to hell. The enormity of Huck’s defiance, in a sense, is what makes him a truly heroic figure—even if he does not fully understand that his stance is good, not bad. In the end, however, Twain decides to make Huck Finn a boy who almost grows up—and who likely would have to—had his author not preferred that he stay a boy forever.

Jim—Jim becomes the brother, father, and mother that Huck never had. He is always sweet to Huck, calling him “Honey” and “Darling,” Jim sacrifices his own self-comfort several times for Huck’s sake. In other words, even though Jim has his own longing for freedom, he is willing to forego his dream if it means that Huck (and even Tom) can live safely. It is Jim’s innate goodness that inspires Huck to decide to “go to hell” to...

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