The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

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Huckleberry Finn Character Analysis

As the son of the town drunkard, Huck is virtually orphaned. He's looked down upon by the adults of St. Petersburg, but is deeply admired by the local boys for living as he wants to—not bathing, sleeping outdoors, smoking, never attending school. He bonds with Tom through their mutual superstitions. Like Tom, he matures morally over the course of the novel, though to different ends. While Tom becomes a responsible community member, Huck is more wary of society's hypocrisy and desires of independence from it.

Huckleberry Finn Quotes in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

The The Adventures of Tom Sawyer quotes below are all either spoken by Huckleberry Finn or refer to Huckleberry Finn. 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:
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage Classics edition of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer published in 2010.
Chapter 6 Quotes
Huckleberry was cordially hated and dreaded by all the mothers of the town, because he was idle, and lawless, and vulgar and bad—and because all their children admired him so, and delighted in his forbidden society, and wished they dared to be like him.
Related Characters: Huckleberry Finn
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:

In this chapter, we're introduced to Huckleberry Funn. Huck is similar to Tom--he likes mischief and is disobedient to adults. But Huck goes further than Tom in disobeying authorities--and doesn't really have any authorities in his life--to the point where everyone in the community treats him as a threat to their families' peace and order. Huck is a scapegoat for the town--whenever anything bad happens, Huck is to blame in some way.

Huck is also a potential role model for Tom. Tom is a young boy, and as we've seen, the various adults in the community are trying to teach him to grow into a mature man. Huck, in all his rough, mischievous glory, is the best role model Tom has at the moment.

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Chapter 11 Quotes
Injun Joe repeated his statement, just as calmly, a few minutes afterward on the inquest, under oath; and the boys, seeing that the lightnings were still withheld, were confirmed in their belief that Joe had sold himself to the devil. He was now become, to them, the most balefully interesting object they had ever looked upon, and they could not take their fascinated eyes from his face. They inwardly resolved to watch him, nights, when opportunity should offer, in the hope of getting a glimpse of his dread master.
Related Characters: Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Injun Joe
Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Twain shows the trial of Injun Joe--a local man who murdered his partner, then framed another man, Muff Potter, for the crime. At the trial, Joe testifies that he saw Muff kill the man. Strangely, everyone seems to believe Joe without much question--Joe's confident attitude and calm demeanor fools the townspeople into trusting him. Tom and Huck Finn have witnessed Joe's crime: they know that it was Joe, not Muff, who committed the murder. The young boys are stunned that Joe can lie so easily, and get away with it.

The passage is an important milestone in the boys' coming-of-age. So far, Tom's life has been carefree and childish--he hasn't really had contact with people or events that could properly be called "adult." Now, Tom has witnessed a murder. Moreover, he sees a grown man lying under oath--something Tom has always been taught is a horrible sin (and he apparently thought Joe would be instantly struck by lightning for committing it). The irony is that in spite of Tom's reputation for rambunctiousness and dishonesty, he's really a pretty good, well-meaning child--as evidenced by his genuine shock when Joe lies under oath.

Chapter 13 Quotes
They said their prayers inwardly, and lying down, since there was nobody there with authority to make them kneel and recite aloud; in truth they had a mind not to say them at all, but they were afraid to proceed to such lengths as that, lest they might call down a sudden and special thunderbolt from Heaven. Then at once they reached and hovered upon the imminent verge of sleep—but an intruder came, now, that would not "down." It was conscience. They began to feel a vague fear that they had been wrong to run away; and next they thought of the stolen meat, and then the real torture came.
Related Characters: Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Joe Harper
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Twain conveys the silliness and childishness of Tom and Huck's mission to escape their town. Tom and Huck have snuck away from home, stealing some provisions in the process. At first they have lofty ambitions of being pirates and robbers--in general, being glamorous and refusing to play by society's rules. But before long, it becomes clear that Tom and Huck are still very much under the dominion of society's rules: they feel so guilty at having stolen food that they beg for God's forgiveness.

The passage is very funny (it only takes Tom and Huck a couple hours before they start to regret running away from home), but there's also a serious point here. As much as Tom dislikes schooling and Sunday services, he really has learned a lot from school and church--he's learned to pray to God and feel a sense of guilt when he does something wrong. Morality and conscience, he discovers, can't just be shrugged off, and a "life of crime" isn't all fun and games.

Chapter 16 Quotes
Joe's pipe dropped from his nerveless fingers. Tom's followed. Both fountains were going furiously and both pumps bailing with might and main. Joe said feebly:
I've lost my knife. I reckon I better go and find it.
Tom said, with quivering lip and halting utterance:
I'll help you. You go over that way and I'll hunt around by the spring. No, you needn't come Huck—we can find it.
Related Characters: Tom Sawyer (speaker), Joe Harper (speaker), Huckleberry Finn
Page Number: 115
Explanation and Analysis:

Tom, Huck, and Joe--who've run away from home to live on an island--engage in some failed "male bonding." Huck, an experienced smoker, introduces his buddies to smoking tobacco out of a corn-cob pipe. Tom and Joe, who sense that being able to smoke a pipe is a sign of manhood and maturity, pretend to be enjoying their new hobby. But before long, both boys get sick to their stomachs--they've never smoked tobacco before. Instead of admitting that they need to go throw up, Tom and Joe pretend that they've lost a knife and are running off to look for it--they're so desperate to save face that they can't tell the obvious truth.

The passage is an amusing demonstration that Tom--in spite of his swagger and machismo--is a long way off from being a man. Like plenty of kids, he has fantasies of being a rugged, independent hero, and yet he can't quite pull off such fantasies. Nevertheless, Tom knows that he's supposed to enjoy smoking tobacco--he's seen enough real men doing so. Ironically, Tom learns that he's supposed to enjoy smoking before he actually learns how to smoke. Machismo--the code of strong, stoic male behavior--is a key part of his informal education.

Chapter 23 Quotes
"Often I says to myself, says I, 'I used to mend all the boys' kites and things, and show 'em where the good fishin' places was, and befriend 'em what I could, and now they've all forgot old Muff when he's in trouble; but Tom don't and Huck don't—they don't forget him,' says I, 'and I don't forget them.'"
Related Characters: Muff Potter (speaker), Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn
Page Number: 153
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Tom and Huck take care of the prisoner Muff Potter, who's been sent to jail for killing a man. Tom and Huck know that the real murder culprit is Injun Joe, not Muff Potter, and partly because of this, they keep Muff company during his time in prison, visiting him often and giving him food. Potter is extremely grateful to Tom and Huck for their kindness—he sobs about having always been gentle and kind to the boys in the town, and being grateful that Tom and Huck have returned the favor.

The scene can be interpreted either as sentimental or lightly satirical. Potter is glad to have friends in prison, but his claims of having always been a friend to the boys in the village sounds a little sappy for Twain—it’s easy to imagine Potter, a drunk, having been less than gentle with Tom and Huck in the past. More importantly, though, it would seem that Tom and Huck are only visiting Muff to soothe their own guilty consciences: instead of going to the authorities to clear Muff's name, they just visit him in private. In short, Tom and Huck are being kind, but not kind enough; at the end of the day, they're just trying to feel less guilty.

Chapter 25 Quotes
Huck was always willing to take a hand in any enterprise that offered entertainment and required no capital, for he had a troublesome superabundance of that sort of time which is not money.
Related Characters: Huckleberry Finn
Page Number: 159
Explanation and Analysis:

In this chapter, Huck and Tom prepare to hunt for buried treasure. While it's Tom's idea to search, Huck is more than willing to go along with the plan: as Twain says here, Huck has untold amounts of free time, since he's just a kid, doesn't have responsible parents or guardians, and doesn't go to school or have a job.

Note the way Twain phrases his description of Huck: Huck has the kind of time that "is not money." In the minds of some people (for example, the adults in Tom and Huck's community), Huck's free time might suggest his potential for work, education, etc. In other words, for the adults in the town, free time is just an opportunity for more work (and therefore more money). For Huck, however, free time is its own reward. Huck feels no desire to do anything other than enjoy his leisure--he's just moving from day to day with no thoughts for the future. One could criticize Huck for being lazy, but that's precisely Twain's point: Huck is a happy, carefree boy who simply doesn't measure time as adults do.

Chapter 35 Quotes
Wherever Tom and Huck appeared they were courted, admired, stared at. The boys were not able to remember that their remarks had possessed weight before; but now their sayings were treasured and repeated; everything they did seemed somehow to be regarded as remarkable; they had evidently lost the power of doing and saying commonplace things; moreover, their past history was raked up and discovered to bear marks of conspicuous originality.
Related Characters: Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn
Related Symbols: The Village
Page Number: 226-227
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Tom and Huck discover that their new windfall of gold has changed the way they live. They find that everyone takes them more seriously now: despite the fact that they’re behaving more or less the same way they always did, the townspeople put up with their pranks, and even find reasons to praise them. As Twain makes crystal-clear, the townspeople are only toadying up to Huck and Tom because the boys have become fabulously wealthy. Just as before, the people in Tom’s community can change their opinions in half a second, particularly if there’s money involved. They have no real principles--they change their beliefs often to "get with the times."

"Lookyhere, Tom, being rich ain't what it's cracked up to be. It's just worry and worry, and sweat and sweat, and a-wishing you was dead all the time. Now these clothes suit me, and this bar'l suits me, and I ain't ever going to shake 'em any more."
Related Characters: Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn
Related Symbols: The Treasure
Page Number: 229
Explanation and Analysis:

In the final chapter of the book, Tom and Huck have become “rich” by discovering a great treasure. Although they’re now “taken care of” for the rest of their lives, they don’t really feel any different. Indeed, Huck tells Tom that wealth is overrated: the only real consequence of having a lot of money is worrying about your money all the time.

Not for the first time in the novel, Huck’s pronouncement is both naïve and insightful. Huck is too young to conceive of all the things money can achieve (Huck’s creator, Mark Twain, was always investing in get-rich-quick schemes, nearly all of which failed to make him any money). And yet Huck has a point, hackneyed though that point may be: money doesn’t necessarily buy happiness.

Throughout the novel, Twain has showed us how Tom and Huck have found great happiness by using their imaginations and treating life as a great adventure. At the end of the novel, Tom and Huck gain some financial independence—one of the hallmarks of adulthood—and yet they’re mostly unimpressed with the adulthood. One could argue that Tom Sawyer is an anti-coming-of-age novel. Tom and Huck learn some lessons along the way, but they could hardly be mistaken for mature young men—and maybe, Twain suggests, that’s a good thing. 

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Huckleberry Finn Character Timeline in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

The timeline below shows where the character Huckleberry Finn appears in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 6
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
Superstition, Fantasy, and Escape Theme Icon
Sentimentality and Realism Theme Icon
Tom runs into Huckleberry Finn, who shows him a dead cat he says can be used to cure warts.... (full context)
Chapter 9
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
At 9:30, his appointed bedtime, Tom drifts off to sleep. Outside his window, Huck meows—their secret call. It takes full-blown howling to wake Tom. (full context)
Chapter 10
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
Superstition, Fantasy, and Escape Theme Icon
Terrified, Tom and Huck flee the graveyard. They stop at an abandoned cottage. They agree not to tell what... (full context)
Chapter 11
The Hypocrisy of Adult Society Theme Icon
...witnessed Muff murder Dr. Robinson. Injun Joe even helps carry the body away. Tom and Huck are stunned, and grow even more afraid of him. (full context)
Chapter 13
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
The Hypocrisy of Adult Society Theme Icon
Superstition, Fantasy, and Escape Theme Icon
Sentimentality and Realism Theme Icon
...him of stealing cream. Tom convinces Joe to run away with him. They track down Huck and agree to meet that night to head to Jackson's Island. (full context)
Chapter 14
Superstition, Fantasy, and Escape Theme Icon
Joe and Huck wake, feeling wonderful. No one cares that the raft has drifted away. (full context)
Chapter 15
Sentimentality and Realism Theme Icon
...island. After napping on the shore, he heads to camp at dawn, where Joe and Huck are arguing over whether he deserted them. They celebrate Tom's embellished stories of the night's... (full context)
Chapter 16
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
Superstition, Fantasy, and Escape Theme Icon
Tom, Huck, and Joe fill their days with all the fun they can imagine: hunting for turtle... (full context)
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
Superstition, Fantasy, and Escape Theme Icon
Sentimentality and Realism Theme Icon
...insists on leaving, Tom taunts him about missing his mother, but Joe sets off, and Huck follows him. Abandoned, Tom decides to share his secret. The secret does indeed convince them... (full context)
Chapter 17
The Hypocrisy of Adult Society Theme Icon
Sentimentality and Realism Theme Icon
In St. Petersburg, the townspeople prepare for the funeral to mourn Tom, Joe, and Huck. Their schoolmates tell fond stories about the boys, each one of them trying to tell... (full context)
Chapter 22
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
Superstition, Fantasy, and Escape Theme Icon
Sentimentality and Realism Theme Icon
...a religious revival has hit the town, including his friends. All of his friends, even Huck, are now preoccupied with the bible and its teachings. Tom feels lonely. (full context)
Chapter 23
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
He approaches Huck to make sure that Huck hasn't told anyone what they saw. Huck responds that Injun... (full context)
Chapter 24
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
...by fear that Injun Joe, whose whereabouts are unknown, will come trying to kill him. Huck is also scared and depressed, because he doesn't know whether Injun Joe has figured out... (full context)
Chapter 26
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
Superstition, Fantasy, and Escape Theme Icon
Sentimentality and Realism Theme Icon
As they set out for the haunted house the following morning, Huck notes that it's Friday and that he dreamed about rats the night before. Both are... (full context)
Chapter 27
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
Showing Off Theme Icon
The next morning, Tom asks if Huck remembers what Tom does about the treasure. Huck does indeed, and is ruminating on how... (full context)
Chapter 28
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
Tom and Huck hide out by the tavern, watching for visitors to No. 2. No one comes by.... (full context)
Chapter 29
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
Superstition, Fantasy, and Escape Theme Icon
...Tom, meanwhile, feels a bit guilty that he won't be at home to listen for Huck's call, but tells himself that nothing will happen at the tavern that night. He doesn't... (full context)
Chapter 30
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
Showing Off Theme Icon
The next morning Huck goes to the Welchman's house to find out what happened. He is welcomed warmly. The... (full context)
Chapter 32
Showing Off Theme Icon
Becky is bedridden from the excitement. Tom recovers quickly, and wants to visit Huck, who is still sick. The widow Douglas forbids Tom from describing his time in the... (full context)
Chapter 33
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
Superstition, Fantasy, and Escape Theme Icon
Showing Off Theme Icon
Huck and Tom finally catch up on all that they've been up to in each other's... (full context)
Chapter 34
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
Superstition, Fantasy, and Escape Theme Icon
Sentimentality and Realism Theme Icon
Huck tells Tom he needs to escape the intimidating crowd. Tom assures him all will be... (full context)
Chapter 35
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Showing Off Theme Icon
Tom and Huck are heroes. The villagers listen closely to their every word, and people start searching haunted... (full context)