Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Strangers Role in Huck Finn

The role of the stranger in Huckleberry Finn is interesting to me because you get to see how Mark Twain feels about strangers and how they act through the eyes of Huckleberry Finn who is most of the time a stranger to other in the book.  Huck Finn meets many stranger throughout the book and to all of them he lies.  Many times Huck lies to people to protect Jim from prosecution like when he ran into men looking for run away slaves on the Mississippi when hes trying to get to shore and ask his where abouts.  "Is your man white or black? ...'He's white.' 'I reckon we'll go and see for ourselves.' ...'Pap'll be mighty much obleeged to you, i can tell you. Everybody goes away when i want them to help me tow the raft.'"  Huck lets the men decide and come to their own conclusions from there.  The men ask Huck if his father has contracted smallpox and Huck says that he has.  Huck must lie in order to keep Jim safe from the clutches of slavery.  Huck does not lie because he is trying to swindle people he is lieing because he wishes to keep Jim safe. Huck also lies about who he is to keep himself safe from being returned to his abusive father. " Who done it? We've considerable about these goings on, down in Hookerville, but we don't know who 'twas that killed Huck Finn.' ' Well i reckon there's a right smart chance of people here that'd like to know who killed him. Some thinks old Finn done it himself." No-is that so?"  This shows that Huck made the right decision in lieing and that from now on Huck will never tell any stranger along the Mississippi who he truely is because it will mean they will turn him in since there is a two hundred dollar reward out for him. Huck is also not a very good liar because when the old lady sees him thread a needle she knows that he is not who he says he is, which is a girl since he has dressed up in girls cloths.  She figures it out and he tells yet another lie which she accepts.  Huck also gets caught in a lie when he is talking to the Hare lipped girl that the Duke and the King are stealing the inheritance from.  He talks of England and the King and how he regularly attends church but he forgets where he was suppose to live and she calls him out on it.  She asks how the king goes to church in Sheffield every day if he lives in London.  He makes up some cockamame story and she also believes it.  While Huck is a stranger and does a considerable amount of lieing he does'nt do it because he is trying to get money and cheat others he does it to protect himself and Jim.  This makes it interesting when you compare it to how strangers in Twains other stories are always self interested and lie because they want to cheat the other.  I wonder if Huck is actually going to turn out to be as self interested a liar in the end as the other stranger in Twains stories.


  1. Very interesting post! I must say that I totally agree that normally strangers in Twain's story are usually looking for some way to better themselves. But Huck is the opposite. He only lies when he has to. He does it to survive and save live; not to swindle someone. Although, I think when Huck lies to Mary Jane, there can be a case made that he's lying to keep the original lie, of stealing the 6 thousand dollars, alive.

  2. You make an interesting point about how Huck tends to be playing the role of the stranger in Huckleberry Finn, instead of an outsider. I also wonder if Huck will become more self interested, like in Twain's other stories. However, I think that because Huck is such a young character of Twain's that he is still easily moldable and might be able to break the norm of Twain's typical "stranger". It is also something to note that Jim is a big part of Huck's life, and he always seems to be in the back of Huck's mind when he goes into the different towns, which is something most of the strangers don't have.

  3. Huck does only lie when he has to, to sruvive,, with Jim. I don't think that he will be the stranger that is only greedy and self-interested, because you can see his mind and heart feeling "bad" or "sick" for telling certain lies and participating in certain hoaxes, especially the most recent hoax with Mary Jane, her sister, and the fraudulent "uncles". I have faith in Huck that he won't be one of those self-interested and greedy strangers.