Huckleberry Finn Power Analysis

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In Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck lacks social power. The people around him use words to demean him and teach him that he is uncivilized and unworthy of education. When Huck escapes his home and travels down the Mississippi River with Jim, he sheds the sense of unworthiness that had been placed upon him. On the river he is still young and ignorant, but, unlike Jim, he has the ability to create a new identity. For Huck, lies function as a source of power, giving him the ability to slip into a new disguise and gain the social status that he lacks. It is through his mastery of lies and language that Huck gains the social power he did not have on his own. Huck’s sense of place in society is impressed upon him by the people of…show more content…
He considers himself to be above Jim. His opinion comes from his father’s words when they were together. During a drunken rant, he lamented the liberties enjoyed by a free black man: “they said he was a p’fessor in a college, and could talk all kinds of languages, and knowed everything. And that ain’t the wurst. They said he could vote, when he was at home. Well, that let me out. Thinks I, what is the country a-coming to?” (34). [Huck’s father thinks even educated, free black people don’t deserve the same rights as white people.] Huck absorbs his father’s words, and although he cares for Jim, never views Jim as his equal. When Huck and Jim are having a disagreement, Huck gives up the argument easily, saying, “i see it warn’t no use wasting words--you can’t learn a nigger to argue” (86). Even when he compliments Jim, Huck’s words show his disregard for Jim’s race. After Huck and Jim narrowly escape a wrecked ship, Jim says he doesn’t want any more adventures, because of the amount of danger it put him into. Huck acknowledges Jim’s intelligence, saying, “he was most always right; he had an uncommon level head for a nigger” (82), but his compliment implies that he is surprised that a black man could be…show more content…
The King and Duke are criminals escaping an angry crowd. They make their livelihood by lying, and they use lies to improve their situation. Both tricksters introduce themselves as royalty, and ask for deference from Huck and Jim. The Duke “said we ought to bow, when we spoke to him, and say ‘Your Grace,’ or ‘My Lord,’ or ‘Your Lordship’” (126), and the King “said it often made him feel easier and better for a while if people treated him according to his rights, and got down on one knee to speak to him” (127). Huck believes their ruse at first, so he serves them and calls them by their false titles. Even when he figures out they were lying, however, he continues to treat them like royalty: “I never said nothing, never let on; kept it to myself; it’s the best way; then you don’t have no quarrels, and don’t get into no trouble” (128). Huck Finn resigns himself to the role that the King and Duke assign to him. Like the Duke and the King, Huck Finn is able to use the power of words to create new identities with the social power he lacks. During one of Huck’s adventures, he and Jim leave two robbers stranded on a sinking ship. Huck immediately feels guilty, and he approaches the captain of a ferry to ask for help. Huck claims to know the niece of the richest man in town. The ferryboat captain agrees to rescue the passengers of the sinking ship because of
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