The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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Huck’s father, Pap is a vicious drunk and racist, demonstrably beyond reform, who wants to have Huck’s fortune for himself. He resents Huck’s social mobility and, when not drunk or in jail, he can usually be found harassing Huck. Infuriated by the Widow at one point, Pap kidnaps Huck and imprisons him in a cabin, where he beats Huck mercilessly, such that Huck is compelled to escape from him once and for all. Pap seems to be free from the Widow and Miss Watson’s idea of society, but he is enslaved to his own wretched viciousness and alcoholism, as much a prisoner as anyone in the novel.

Pap Quotes in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn quotes below are all either spoken by Pap or refer to Pap. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Slavery and Racism Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dover Publications edition of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn published in 1994.
Chapter 5 Quotes

“And looky here—you drop that school, you hear? I’ll learn people to bring up a boy to put on airs over his own father and let on to be better’n what he is.”

Related Characters: Pap (speaker), Huckleberry Finn
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

The Widow sends Huck to school, but when Huck's biological father, Pap, comes back to town, the greasy old man opposes his son receiving an education. Why? Because Pap resents the fact that Huck is breaking with the family tradition of ignorance and, more to the point, that Huck is "put[ting] on airs" over him, that is, acting like his own father's social superior.

Pap talks like Huck, he seems to live freely outside the bounds of society like Huck, but he couldn't be more different. While Huck is an authentic free spirit, Pap is just as committed to maintaining rigid social structures as the Widow Douglas is. He wants the ignorant to remain ignorant – especially if they're related to him. More broadly, he wants to maintain his social position, low as it is, by ensuring that all those lower than him on the social hierarchy stay lower. In contrasting Huck and Pap, Twain suggests that living a wild life like Pap doesn't make one free at all. (Indeed, Pap is enslaved to his alcoholism.) Rather, freedom involves an ability to see through the falsehoods of society and a commitment to the humanity of others.

The novel as a whole advances a vision far more democratic than Pap's. It believes in a world of social mobility, where people like Huck can become educated and where people like Jim can rise out of slavery into freedom.

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The judge he felt kind of sore. He said he reckoned a body could reform the ole man [Pap] with a shot-gun maybe, but he didn’t know no other way.

Related Characters: Huckleberry Finn (speaker), Pap, The new judge
Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:

After Pap gets outrageously drunk and is jailed, the new judge vows to reform him – but Pap is debauched beyond reform. He takes advantage of the judge's hospitality, gets drunk, consequently falls, breaks his arm, and almost freezes to death. This quote gives the new judge's response.

On the one hand, the new judge represents the decent regularity that society stands for, and of which Huck Finn is rightly wary. It is the failure of this society, and the social pressure it creates, that lead to people like Pap sinking into wretchedness in the first place. A society that produces people like Pap, and which can't help such people, is a society in need of reform.

On the other hand, the judge, despite making a mistake in granting Pap custody of Huck, has gone above and beyond in giving Pap a room in his house. His quip about the shotgun is kind of funny and endearing. The novel may disagree with his rigid upholding of custom and tradition, but it nonetheless reveals the new judge's humanity. It is this kind of careful, tender artistry that constitutes the novel's freedom.

Chapter 6 Quotes

“When they told me there was a State in this country where they’d let that nigger vote, I drawed out. I says I’ll never vote again…I says to the people, why ain’t this nigger put up at auction and sold?”

Related Characters: Pap (speaker)
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:

One night, while he and Huck have dinner in an isolated cabin, Pap gets drunk and begins to rant nastily against the government. He is especially infuriated that a man of mixed race can become an educated college professor with the right to vote. The quote given here makes up a part of his rant.

Earlier, Pap berates Huck for getting an education, and he similarly resents the professor, whom he considers to be his racial and social inferior. Some historians suggest that, because the class structure was more mobile in post-Revolutionary America than in Europe, people could no longer derive a sense of identity from their position in a traditional social hierarchy. As such, poor whites in particular defined their social identity in contradistinction to that of black or mixed-race Americans, who in a slave-holding society were overwhelmingly forced into a place at the bottom. Pap certainly seems to do so, which is why the idea of a man of mixed race being more successful than him is so disturbing to him: it destabilizes his sense of social identity, his sense of superiority to others in society.

Of course, the novel as a whole completely rejects Pap's toxic racism and his perverse reliance on rigid social structures, embracing instead freedom for all and adaptability of spirit.

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Pap Character Timeline in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The timeline below shows where the character Pap appears in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Growing Up Theme Icon
Huck thinks about his father Pap, who hadn’t been seen for more than a year, which is just fine with Huck.... (full context)
Chapter 4
Religion and Superstition Theme Icon
...ox, that Jim does magic with. Huck goes to Jim, tells him that he saw Pap’s tracks in the snow (those that leave the cross), and asks what Pap is going... (full context)
Chapter 5
Society and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
Huck is scared at first to see the old, greasy, pale Pap sitting in his room because Pap “tanned,” or beat, him so often, but soon is... (full context)
Society and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Pap tells Huck that he hears that Huck is rich now, but Huck says that he... (full context)
Society and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
The next day, Pap is drunk and tries to coerce Judge Thatcher into giving him Huck’s fortune, but the... (full context)
Society and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
Pap is pleased with the court’s custody ruling. He threatens to beat Huck “black and blue”... (full context)
Society and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
After Pap is released, the new judge resolves to reform him. He invites Pap to supper, where... (full context)
Chapter 6
Society and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
Pap continues to harass Judge Thatcher for Huck’s money, and he harasses Huck for not stopping... (full context)
Society and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
When Pap loiters around the Widow’s estate too much, the Widow reprimands him. Pap vows to show... (full context)
Society and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Huck comes to like the “lazy and jolly” life he leads with Pap, the smoking and fishing he does without the burden of study. His nice clothes become... (full context)
Freedom Theme Icon
However, Pap eventually begins to beat Huck so often and so severely that Huck, covered with welts,... (full context)
Society and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
Pap is characteristically in a bad mood when he comes in. He rants that his lawsuit... (full context)
Slavery and Racism Theme Icon
Society and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
After Huck loads the skiff, he and Pap sit down to dinner, during which Pap becomes drunk. He begins to rant against the... (full context)
Society and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Religion and Superstition Theme Icon
As he rants, Pap wanders around the cabin, eventually tripping on a tub of salt pork, which makes him... (full context)
Religion and Superstition Theme Icon
After some time passes, Pap jumps up “looking wild,” and he goes after Huck with a knife, calling him the... (full context)
Chapter 7
Freedom Theme Icon
Pap wakes Huck, who fell asleep in the night, and asks him what he’s doing with... (full context)
Freedom Theme Icon
After Huck returns to shore, Pap berates him for taking so long with the fish. Huck lies that he fell in... (full context)
Freedom Theme Icon
Pap and Huck collect nine logs from the river to sell and then eat dinner. Pap... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
Huck takes Pap’s gun into the nearby woods, kills a hog, and takes the hog back to his... (full context)
Slavery and Racism Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
Huck hears a sound. It is Pap paddling back to the cabin. Huck loses no time in slipping quietly down the river... (full context)
Chapter 8
Society and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
...shore to observe the ferry as it passes. Many people he knows are onboard, including Pap, Judge Thatcher, and Tom Sawyer, all of whom are talking about Huck’s “murder.” The captain... (full context)
Chapter 12
Freedom Theme Icon
...the mornings, he slips into cornfields to “borrow,” that is, steal produce. Huck says that Pap told him that it wasn’t harmful to “borrow” things if you mean to pay for... (full context)
Chapter 43
Society and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
...money. Tom says that Huck still has six thousand dollars in Judge Thatcher’s care, because Pap didn’t take it and hasn’t even been in town. Jim explains that Pap died; his... (full context)