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Important Quotes in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Instructor: Molly Richards

Molly has ten years of middle school teaching experience and two master's degrees in teaching.

Mark Twain's ''The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn'' is a novel famous for satire, humor, and the culture of a Southern Antebellum society. Many quotations throughout the novel help identify and explain these themes.

Summary

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a sequel to Mark Twain's novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. At the end of Tom Sawyer, Tom and Huck discover stolen gold. Huck is adopted by the Widow Douglas and begins to live a life of manners and sophistication in Mississippi. However, Huck's father is not out of the picture. When he finds out that Huck has money in the bank, he comes back to get him. The problem is that his father is a drunk and does not care for Huck that much. Huck fakes his own death and sets off down the Mississippi River. He meets a runaway slave named Jim, and so the adventure begins.

Themes

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn takes place in Mississippi during the antebellum, or pre-Civil War era. The South at this time had a very cultured, high-class society that relied on the manual labor of slaves to work on the plantations. The South also had a large group of uneducated, poor, white people. These two groups are represented in Twain's novel in a humorous way. Additionally, Twain incorporates slavery, as Huck befriends Tom, a runaway slave. Twain uses a lot of satire, or humorous criticism, to reveal the flaws of each of these groups and their interaction with each other.

Quotes

The Widow Douglas

''That is just the way with some people. They get down on a thing when they don't know nothing about it.'' Huck Finn, Chapter 1

Huck Finn is taken in by the Widow Douglas, which he really appreciates, but they come from two different worlds. The Widow Douglas wants Huck to dress well, have nice manners, and be civilized. Huck is not like that though. He prefers his raggedy clothes and wants to smoke, and the Widow will not let him. Huck is upset that the Widow does not care to learn anything about how other people live, yet she still criticizes their way of life.

''Then she told me all about the bad place, and said I wished I was there. She got mad, then, but I didn't mean no harm. All I wanted was to go somewheres; all I wanted was a change, I warn't particular.'' Huck Finn, Chapter 1

The Widow Douglas is a sophisticated woman who was raised properly and expects children to act a certain way. She tells Huck all about hell, hoping to scare him, but it does not work. Huck tells her he wants to go there, mostly just because he wants a change. This makes the Widow Douglas upset because she wants Huck to be scared enough to make a change in his behavior.

The King and the Duke

''If I never learnt nothing else out of Pap, I learnt that the best way to get along with his kind of people is to let them have their own way.'' Huck Finn, Chapter 19

Huck learns the real identities of the king and the duke but knows better than to call them out on it. After dealing with his father who is abusive and drunk most of the time, Huck has learned that sometimes the best way to deal with some people is to just let them alone.

''It don't make no diference whether you do right or wrong, a person's conscience ain't got no sense, and just goes for him anyway...It takes up more room than all the rest of a person's insides, and yet ain't no good, nohow.'' Huck Finn, Chapter 33

After the king and the duke are captured, tarred and feathered by the town, Huck is feeling guilty but cannot figure out why. Huck's conscience seems to get the best of him quite a bit, and here he realizes that we have no control over our conscience, yet it is always there, always reminding us to do the right thing.

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