Lies and Deceit in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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There are many themes throughout Mark Twains novel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, that makes this book appealing. However, the most important theme revolves around the lies and deceit that occurs from many characters. It is these lies and deceit that Huck and Jim use for their own protection and also each others, which ultimately lead to a real, sacred friendship that forms between the two.

Huck often lies throughout; however, they are all for a good purpose and for a specific reason. This leads to the analysis that Huck actually has different types of lies for different situations. For example, in chapter seven, Pap catches him with the gun and asks: What you doin with this gun? (Twain 124). In this situation, simply for Hucks own protection, he had to lie because if Pap knew what him and Jim was doing with the gun, he would get beaten as his punishment. This brings Huck to say, Somebody tried to get in, so I was laying for him. (Twain 124). Huck seems to gain confidence in telling lies as the story develops but he has a tough time trying to deceive Pap. This is shown when Huck states I haint got no money [ ] I haint got no money, I tell you. (Twain 118). Even though Pap knew it was a lie, we can see Huck trying to protect himself from his uncivilised father abusing him again. It is more of these protection lies that we see as the story continues and this is important as we start to see the growth of Huck and what he is willing to do to save Jim causing this sacred friendship.

Not only does Huck lie for physical protection, but also to evade detection which ultimately keeps himself safe. In chapter seventeen when Huck gets spotted after faking his own death, he smartly thinks on his feet and lies, Its me. [ ] George Jackson, sir. Im only a boy (Twain 163). Since Huck got found he had no choice but to lie and make up his name after he faked his death which keeps him under the radar and allows him to carry on with his adventure. Not knowing what would happen from there on, Huck finds Jim once again. From the lie that Huck told, it has resulted in the reunion of the two, showing how the lie that was told, has ended up as Hucks and Jims gain. Huck uses detection further when he dresses up as a girl, called Sarah Mary Williams, after the second attempt. Even though this turns out to be Hucks most unsuccessful lie, the woman never finds out who he really is and so the lie still serves its purpose. These two lies of detection are important as it allows Huck and Jim to continue their journey and not get recognised which could have led to disastrous consequences, therefore protecting themselves.

While Huck shows his desire to remain on his path with Jim, he does not always make the right decisions on when to tell a lie. This is shown in chapter fifteen when Huck tries to make Jim believe that the fog was a dream: I haint seen no fog, nor no islands, nor no troubles, nor nothing. (Twain 156). This proves to be a mistake by Huck as when Jim finds out the truth, the African American is angry at the boy. This particular lie shows us that even though he has gained independence throughout, he is still a thirteen-year-old boy with an attitude that discriminates towards black people. This suggests Huck does not think of Jim as highly on the moral scale when compared to white men, since Huck may still believe that the right and civilised thing to do, is to turn Jim, an escaped slave, in.

On the contrary, it is arguable that Huck protects Jim throughout the whole novel since he does not turn Jim in as soon as they meet. Furthermore, Jim being with Huck and them sticking together can be seen as protection for each other. If Huck was not to go on the Island, Jim may have been found by other people resulting in him being brought back to be a slave and to be abused. Also, at the same time, Jim protects Huck by not allowing him to the see the dead body, (Pap), as he would not know how it would affect Huck. Overall, the fact they are both there for each other shows a lot about how this true sacred friendship has formed, and how it slowly gains in strength over time.

Jim protected Huck from a potentially devastating moment, and Huck so called repays the favour when Huck is advanced by two men wanting to search his boat for escaped slaves. Huck lies to the men and convinces them that he has smallpox and that they should back away. Furthermore, when asked about Hucks partner, Huck protects Jim in a way no one ever thought could during this era: Hes white. (Twain 159). The fact that Huck is willing to lie about Jims skin colour just to keep him from being taken shows the moral scale by which he once went by, has gone, and now Huck sees Jim as another human rather than just a slave. Finally, the final lie that Huck tells is to himself, which results in protection for Jim and the final true, sacred relationship to form between him and Jim. This is in chapter thirty-one where Huck writes a letter to Miss Watson originally betraying Jim. Ultimately this is the lie he is telling himself as after everything that has happened with them together, and Huck accepting Jim for who he is and not his skin colour, he has lied to himself by attempting to deceive his partner. However, Huck deep down knows his feelings for Jim and the immediate ripping of the letter proves this as he also comments, All right, then, Ill go to hell (Twain 234). The sacrifice Huck is willing to make to Jim by going to hell to keep Jim safe, finally makes Huck realise the relationship he has with Jim. It is this that forms the true, sacred friendship that we see at the end of the novel.

In conclusion, the theme of lies and deception in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, is one of the most influential and important themes that the story has within it. The going against what is said to be right (lying), in order to save someone who not so long ago they met on an Island, shows how Huck, who started off na??ve to the adult world and only knew two types of civilisation, (civilised embodied by the widow and uncivilised embodied by Pap); both of which include racism, now has gained that independence to believe he should do what is right, and not conform to everyone else.

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Lies and Deceit in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. (2019, May 18). Retrieved February 22, 2024 , from

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