Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
aka: Huckleberry Finn

Go To

"Notice. Persons trying to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot."
Mark Twain's preface to the book

The 1884 sequel to Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

After his worthless father shows up to demand a fortune Huck has found, Huck escapes to Jackson's Island in the Mississippi River. From there, Huck and Jim, a fugitive slave, float down the river on a raft. They have several adventures and are joined by two men claiming to be the disinherited heir to an English dukedom and Dauphin Louis XVII of France, at which point things start to get a little hairy for our heroes.

A satire first and foremost, experienced readers tend to find it even more entertaining, and knowing a good deal of history doesn't hurt either. Huck Finn was revolutionary at the time for including a black slave as a main character. In doing so, though, it uses the words that were normal at the time, including the N-Word as a common description — which of course isn't common anymore. The novel remains widely considered to be a pillar of American literature. There have been multiple adaptations on film and television as well as two animes (from 1976 and 1994 respectively).

The book is in the public domain, and the full text is available for free at Project Gutenberg.


  • Abusive Parents: Pap; even for the time and place, where Corporal Punishment was accepted not only from parents but in schools and even other areas (the military and prison systems, for two), who also takes money from Huck for liquor; his beatings of Huck finally drive the lad to run away and thus begin the adventure.
  • Adaptational Sympathy: Pap gets this in the 1976 anime.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: This is Huck's reaction to seeing the Duke and the King tarred and feathered.
  • The Alcoholic: Again, Pap, to the extreme of seeing non-comic alcohol-induced hallucinations. Also Boggs by implication— the townspeople know the first thing he does every month, when he comes in for supplies, is get staggering drunk.
  • The All-American Boy: Huck is this as an Unbuilt Trope.
  • All for Nothing: Happens twice during the plot to get Jim away from the Phelps plantation.
    • First, Tom's ridiculously convoluted plan works a little too well; he and Huck break Jim out, but find themselves being chased by an armed mob. Tom gets shot, and Jim allows himself to be recaptured while helping a doctor tend to him.
    • Then, while Jim is waiting to be either sold or taken back to St. Petersburg, Tom reveals that he's no longer a slave; Miss Watson had died two months earlier and freed him in her will.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Except Huck has no idea what to do now.
    But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can't stand it. I been there before.
  • The Artful Dodger: As in Tom Sawyer, Huck is never more miserable than when he's being "sivilized". He eventually gets used to it, until he ends up on the run again, vowing to never go back.
  • Ascended Extra: Jim was a minor character in Tom Sawyer, but here he's the Deuteragonist.
  • Asshole Victim: Zigzagged. While the Duke and King getting tarred and feathered is a fitting punishment for all they’ve done, Huck still feels sorry for them either way.
  • Badass Boast: "All right then. I'll go to Hell."
  • Bantering Baddie Buddies: The Duke and the King are a two-man Con Artist team with Delusions of Eloquence.
  • Book Dumb:
    • Huck does have the beginnings of an education and actually grows kind of fond of reading books, but he's nowhere near as educated as he thinks he is, and his skills are a lot more practical than theoretical. Compared to his father, mind, he's a Book Genius— Pap Finn, who's illiterate and who downright brags that his wife and relatives were too, primarily objects to Huck being educated because he doesn't want Huck to get conceited and think he's better than his father.
    • Jim is uneducated, ignorant, superstitious, and more than a little stubborn about keeping to his pre-conceived notions about the world. When it comes down to it, though, he's probably the most skilled, sensible, and morally upstanding character in the book; he's practically a Jack of All Trades as long as the trades don't involve book learning.
  • Bowdlerize: A "politically correct" edition has recently been released with every incidence of the n-word changed to "slave". It creates several problems such as a free black man still being referred to as a slave ("free n_____" becomes "free slave").
    • In their piece on the aforementioned edition, The Daily Show pointed out that the 1955 TV adaptation made by CBS wrote Jim out entirely.
    • The Hipster HUCKLEBERRY FINN satirizes the bowdlerized version by replacing every racial slur with the word "hipster".
  • The Bus Came Back: Tom Sawyer has a minor role in the beginning of the story and then shows up again for a major role in the final act.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The corpse that Huck and Jim come across early on in their adventure is revealed at the end to have been Huck's father.
  • Complaining About Things You Haven't Paid For: Employed to set up a Stealth Insult— "He didn't charge nothing for his sermons; and it was worth it, too."
  • Complexity Addiction: Tom apparently suffers from this; his plan for freeing Jim is needlessly complicated and based on fiction he's read. Of course, it's later revealed that the whole rescue was pointless, since Jim was supposed to be a free man, and Tom knew it the whole time and was only having fun. But telling him that the moment he arrives would kill the potential of an epic prank.
  • Confound Them with Kindness: The King and the Duke attempt to swindle a family out of their fortune by pretending to be relatives of the recently deceased Peter Wilks to gain the inheritance money. However, upon receiving the money, they proceed to donate it to Peter's daughters. Now having the family's complete trust, they trick the family once again by claiming to want to adopt the daughters and bring them back to England with them. The girls, trusting them, end up returning the money as a sign of good faith. They then proceed to attempt to auction everything on the farm (including the property), because nobody would be living there with the girls in England. However, the King and Duke planned to duck out as soon as they got every last drop of money. Their greed causes Huck Finn to stop them from selling everything, which nearly gets him lynched.
  • Conscience Makes You Go Back: After reflecting on his friendship with Jim, Huck decides to return and free him from being sold back into slavery.
  • Content Warning: For the Royal Nonesuch. "The biggest line of all" on the advertising handbills read, "LADIES AND CHILDREN NOT ADMITTED."
  • Curious Qualms of Conscience: One of the most wrenching in literature: literally every authority in Huck's life has taught him it's his duty to turn Jim in — and yet his true conscience is telling him the opposite.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Tom Sawyer plays a secondary role this time around. While he does tend to dominate the narrative whenever he's in a scene, he's absent for most of the book.
    • Becky Thatcher. Twain even goes so far as to misplace her name, referring to her as "Bessie Thatcher".
  • Deus ex Machina: A frequent criticism is that after Tom's plan to free Jim fails miserably, he reveals that Jim's owner had died off-screen, her will manumitting him, and the whole thing had just been for fun. Ernest Hemingway famously referred to this ending as "cheating."
  • Didn't Think This Through: Tom's overly-complicated plan to make freeing Jim considerably harder than it has to be, including alerting his captors to their plan resulting in an armed posse 15 men strong arriving to stop them, ends with Tom getting shot in the calf, which leads to Jim being recaptured.
  • Direct Line to the Author: It's explained near the beginning that Mark Twain had written a book Based on a True Story of Tom Sawyer's adventures. One of the first novelists to use the trope, with Huckleberry Finn predating Sherlock Holmes by three years.
  • Dirty Old Man: The King. Interestingly, this is not played for laughs at all— Huck is outright disgusted.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: The Duke and the King start out as Huck and Jim's traveling companions, but they become antagonistic. Angry townspeople tar and feather them and run them out of town on a rail prior to the final act of the novel.
  • Disguised in Drag: At one point, Huck dresses as a girl to keep the townspeople from recognizing him.
  • Eat the Evidence: Huck and Tom saw through the leg of Jim's bed to help him escape the Phelps plantation, then swallow the sawdust to hide any traces of their work. Both of them end up with terrible stomachaches as a result.
  • Emo Teen: Emmeline Grangerford in a rare Unbuilt Trope example. Her death-obsessed and maudlin poetry and art was meant to be Twain's lampoon of the death-obsessed and maudlin poetry of the notoriously awful and now-forgotten 19th century American poet Julia A. Moore (a.k.a. "the Sweet Singer of Michigan").
  • Even Evil Has Standards: When the King and the Duke are plotting to steal the inherited property of the orphaned Wilks sisters, whose rich uncle has just died, the Duke mentions to the King that he's having some moral qualms about stealing all the belongings besides money (i.e. their house and their slaves). The King assures him that the "property" will be returned to the family as soon as the townspeople realize they were impostors, i.e. after the Duke and the King have escaped with the loot. Thus, the only money the girls will be out is their uncle's gold stash; the rest of the con will only burn "all the fools in town"— which is the majority in any town, the King says.
  • External Retcon: Jon Clinch's Finn, which is mostly about Pap Finn.
  • Fake Aristocrat: The Duke and the King almost certainly aren't who they claim to be.
  • Faking the Dead: How Huck escapes from Pap's cabin and fore-shortens the resulting search for him; Huck's step-by-step approach could almost have served as an instruction manual for anyone wanting to do the same thing.
  • Falsely Reformed Villain: Pap Finn (Huck's father) is a perfect example. He fakes an emotional conversion to tee-totaling to con a new judge in town out of some new clothes, a free meal, and a nice night in the judge's guest room, and into (Pap hopes) more control over Huck and Huck's half of the treasure. Unfortunately for him and fortunately for Huck, it literally doesn't last the night.
  • Family Extermination: The climax of the Grangerford/Shepherdson feud. It's a Roaring Rampage of Romance set off by the Elopement of Harvey S. and Sophia G. By the end, all of the men (and teenage boys) of the family who has taken Huck in are dead, along with many of their relatives and at least some of the other side.
  • Feuding Families:
    • The Grangerfords and Shepherdsons; Huck stops by just before the tipping point in their feud. He tries to get Buck Grangerford to explain why the two families came to be at each other's throats in the first place, but Buck admits that the exact reasons why are rather unclear and that no one actually knows which family offended the other one first.
    • During Huck's time, the tipping point is reached: the Elopement of a Grangerford and a Shepherdson. It ends in a Family Extermination, at least of the immediate Grangerford family. Huck is lucky to escape himself.
  • The Film of the Book: More of a "Broadway musical of the book" variant with Big River, a musical adaptation of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by William Hauptmann, with the songs composed by Roger Miller.
  • First Love: Huck finds her, unrequited of course, in Mary Jane Wilks. Their last moments together make this obvious:
    "'Good-bye. I'm going to do everything just as you've told me; and if I don't ever see you again, I sha'n't ever forget you and I'll think of you a many and a many a time, and I'll pray for you, too!'"—and she was gone. Pray for me! I reckoned if she knowed me she'd take a job that was more nearer her size. But I bet she done it, just the same—she was just that kind. She had the grit to pray for Judus if she took the notion—there warn't no back-down to her, I judge. You may say what you want to, but in my opinion she had more sand in her than any girl I ever see; in my opinion she was just full of sand. It sounds like flattery, but it ain't no flattery. And when it comes to beauty—and goodness, too—she lays over them all. I hain't ever seen her since that time that I see her go out of that door; no, I hain't ever seen her since, but I reckon I've thought of her a many and a many a million times, and of her saying she would pray for me; and if ever I'd a thought it would do any good for me to pray for her, blamed if I wouldn't a done it or bust."
  • Flanderization: Tom Sawyer in this book is defined by his love of adventure stories, which was only one aspect of his character in Tom Sawyer. (This gets even worse in the lesser-known later sequels Tom Sawyer Abroad and Tom Sawyer, Detective.)
  • Flat Character: Miss Watson and Widow Douglas mainly serve as foils to Huck and Jim.
  • Funetik Aksent: Literally everyone, including Huck in the narration. There's an author's note at the beginning pointing out that several different Funetik Aksents are being demonstrated, lest the reader think "that all these characters were attempting to talk alike and not succeeding." Notably, nearly all of Jim's dialogue is misspelled to reflect the fact that he is not educated, common in works depicting African Americans at the time.
  • Gaslighting: Tom insists they do this as part of his infamous and unnecessarily convoluted scheme to rescue Jim the "proper" way. He and Huck hide spoons while Aunt Sally counts them, and then replace them when she tries to re-count, as well as sending mysterious threatening messages.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Jim telling Huck's dad's fortune:
    Dey's two angels hoverin' round 'bout him. One uv 'em is white and shiny, en t'other one is black. De white one gits him to go right a little while, den de black one sail in en bust it all up.
  • Groin Attack: The Duke and the King were punished by tarring and feathering and being ridden out of town on a rail. This means that they were stripped naked, covered in tar and feathers, and paraded around town straddling a fresh-cut, splintery fence rail. To be fair, they completely deserved it.
  • Hell of a Heaven: Huck's religious tutelage is a bit hampered by him not wanting to spend eternity playing a harp.
  • Hero Antagonist: Tom Sawyer is hardly villainous, but he complicates Huck's plan to free Jim considerably by making them recreate numerous details that he read in books, adding many complications and challenges that did not exist before. It gets even worse when it turns out Tom knew Jim was free the whole time, but didn't bother telling anyone.
  • Heroes' Frontier Step: Huck declaring "I'll go to Hell" rather than turn Jim over to the authorities marks Huck's transformation from wayward runaway to loyal and steadfast soul.
  • Honor Before Reason: The head of the Grangerford family thinks that ambushing your opponent, even when you're in a death feud that has been going on for decades, isn't what a gentleman should do. His opponents, the Shepherdsons, think differently. This may be the reason why they win at the end.
    • Tom's actions throughout the elaborate escape plot with Jim boil down to this.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Huck Finn decries the gullible nature of slaves in that they're lining up to have Jim tell their fortune with a supposedly magic hairball, in the same chapter where he himself consults Jim and the hairball and even hands over the money Jim claims the hairball needs to "make it talk."
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Pap Finn heads to town for a drink of whisky, spending the dollar Huck has reluctantly given him.
  • I'm Going to Hell for This: In a rare non-comedic example, Huck says this before tearing up a letter to Miss Watson to save Jim himself.
  • Inconvenient Itch: Lampshaded early in the book, when Huck and Tom hide from Jim.
    There was a place on my ankle that got to itching, but I dasn’t scratch it; and then my ear begun to itch; and next my back, right between my shoulders. Seemed like I’d die if I couldn’t scratch. Well, I’ve noticed that thing plenty times since. If you are with the quality, or at a funeral, or trying to go to sleep when you ain’t sleepy—if you are anywheres where it won’t do for you to scratch, why you will itch all over in upwards of a thousand places.
  • Innocent Bigot: Huck. Actually, practically every white person in the book, to some degree. Except the villainous ones, who are just ordinary bigots.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Huck and Jim are 13/14 and 33, respectively.
  • In-Universe Factoid Failure: Huck provides plenty of these during the course of the book. By now he's received enough education that he can read and write, and has at least some idea of geography and history... but that's not to say his ideas about them are accurate. A classic example is when he tells Jim about Henry VIII, and what a nasty excuse for a human being he was... he not only gets Henry mixed up with King Shahryar by claiming he married a new wife every day and beheaded her the next morning, he includes Anne Hathaway (William Shakespeare's wife) and Jane Shore (Edward IV's mistress) among Henry's wives and also blames Henry for the Boston Tea Party and the Declaration of Independence, which he presents as vile declarations of war against the USA:
    "Well, Henry he takes a notion he wants to get up some trouble with this country. How does he go at it -— give notice? —- give the country a show? No. All of a sudden he heaves all the tea in Boston Harbor overboard, and whacks out a declaration of independence, and dares them to come on. That was his style —- he never give anybody a chance."
  • I Should Write a Book About This: Inverted. In the last paragraph, Huck says, "...there ain’t nothing more to write about, and I am rotten glad of it, because if I’d a knowed what a trouble it was to make a book I wouldn’t a tackled it, and ain’t a-going to no more.". He must have changed his mind on that last point afterwards, since both Tom Sawyer Abroad and Tom Sawyer, Detective are narrated by Huck.
  • Jerkass with a Heart of Gold: Tom Sawyer is much less sympathetic in this book, at least until he gets a karmic shot in the leg, called out on his BS, and starts to finally realize the error of his ways afterwards. Still, he did catch that bullet doing a noble thing.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The Duke and the King when their conning catches up to them- after everyone catches on to their scam play, they get a taste of tar and feathering.
  • Lighter and Softer: The last chapters of the novel, which were written after a hiatus of several years, abandon the relative seriousness of the story until then and become exaggerated slapstick comedy.
  • Manly Tears: Huck spies Jim crying, thinking about his wife and child. Huck begins to realize that Jim is a real person with real emotions at that point.
  • A Match Made in Stockholm: Discussed. When Tom and his gang are playing robbers, Tom mentions that if they capture any young women, they'll have to hold them in their cave and treat them nicely, and by and by they'll fall in love and never want to leave.
  • The Millstone: Tom Sawyer in the final part of the book. He's a somewhat unusual example, in that in this case The Millstone is the one in charge; the far more practical Huck just goes along with him out of a mistaken belief that because Tom has a lot more book-learning he obviously knows the best way to handle things.
  • Misaimed Fandom:invoked Tom takes inspiration for his adventures at the beginning of the book from Don Quixote, believing it to be a story of a great adventure.
  • Mood Whiplash: Huck has just seen a man get shot to death for no real reason, and the lynch mob that goes after the killer is dispersed by a Breaking Lecture. What's his reaction? Go to the circus!
  • Mutual Envy: Both Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn put each other on pedestals, thinking the other the smartest person they know and wishing that they had the other's life.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: At one point, Jim tells Huck a story about a time he told his daughter to shut the door to their shack. She refused, so he struck her - and then a gust of wind slammed the door shut, and she didn't react. He slid behind her and shouted, and she still didn't move. She was deaf. Jim broke down crying, held her close, and begged God for forgiveness.
  • Narm: In-universe, with the poems and pictures made by Emmeline Grangerford alas.
  • Nobody Here but Us Birds: As in Tom Sawyer, Tom and Huck use cat cries as signals.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The King is loosely based on Emperor Norton, whom Mark Twain personally knew when he worked as a newspaperman in San Francisco.
  • No Name Given: We never learn what the real names of the Duke and King are. At one point they use names when advertising their sham play, but these names are actually those of famous actors at the time.
  • Not Afraid of Hell: Miss Watson—the stereotypical "spinster" sister of the much kinder Widow Douglas—tells Huck all about the Good Place and the Bad Place. Huck decides that he wouldn't mind going to the Bad Place because "Tom would be there too, and besides at the Good Place, all you do is play harp."
    • It's also completely inverted in chapter 31:
      "I most dropped in my tracks I was so scared... something inside of me kept saying, '... people that acts as I'd been acting [helping Jim escape slavery] goes to everlasting fire.'"
    • It's his belated conviction of the reality of The Bad Place that creates the impact of Huck's immortal line:
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Huck sees Jim crying one night over not knowing where his family was, and starts to realize that Jim has the same feelings white people do, and it's the start of his unlearning of everything he's been taught.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: The Duke and the King. Buffoonish they may be, but they can still be dangerous, as Jim finds out the hard way.
  • Now What?: The ending has Huck consider his options, and he doesn't show any sign of which one he'll do.
  • One Riot, One Ranger: In this case, it's a criminal rather than a law enforcement official who acts this way - but the dialogue Twain chooses simply drips this attitude.
    Colonel Sherburn: ...Your mistake is, that you didn't bring a man with you; that's one mistake, and the other is that you didn't come in the dark and fetch your masks. You brought part of a man — Buck Harkness, there — and if you hadn't had him to start you, you'd a taken it out in blowing.
  • Parental Abandonment: Pap, interrupted by occasional reappearances in Huck's life with cowed and hickory.
  • Parental Substitute: The Widow Douglas tries to be this for Huck in the first part of the novel, and Aunt Sally aims to take her turn at the end.
  • Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Tom Sawyer starts a band of robbers known as Tom Sawyer's Gang. They propose to be highwaymen, wearing bandit masks, stopping stagecoaches and carriages, killing people, taking their watches and money, and ransoming people. Their first adventure is only a Sunday school picnic for a primer class, and the only "loot" they get consists of a rag doll, doughnuts and jam, a hymnbook, and a tract, which they have to give back to the Sunday school teacher.
  • Political Overcorrectness: The book is scathingly anti-slavery, but is often banned from schools for supposed "racial insensitivity" because its characters are using 'the n-word'... in the American South of the 1830s.
  • Punny Name: A "granger" is a cattle rancher; cattle ranchers and sheepherders were old rivals in the 1800s, thus the Grangerfords and Shepherdsons don't get along.
  • Retcon: A couple of minor inconsistencies between this book and Tom Sawyer is pretty neatly explained away in Huck's narration, when he mentions that while Mark Twain's account of the actual events were mostly accurate, Twain did embellish and fudge a few details.
  • Road Trip Plot: Huck and Jim, fleeing on a raft, encountering colorful characters and wild adventures along the way, and the threads that tie it all together is their developing relationship and Twain's beloved Mississippi River itself.
  • Rodent Cellmates: Parodied - after Jim, Huck's foster mother's escaped slave, is captured, Tom Sawyer's Zany Scheme to help Huck break him out includes an insistence that any good prisoner should befriend the rats they share their cell with, so Jim does so. It bears mentioning here that Tom has an overactive imagination and has read way too many adventure novels.
  • Rough Overalls: The lower class variety as well as the troublemaker version. Huck—who is barely out of childhood — is often in overalls, dislkes the idea of being well behaved or civilized, and he's one of the poorest kids in the town.
  • Rule of Cool: Parodied to pieces by Tom's plan to free Jim, which could be done simply and quickly, but Tom insists on engineering around the Rule of Cool. It goes badly.
  • The Runaway: Huck's escape from his alcoholic father sets up the rest of the plot.
  • Saw It in a Movie Once: Pre-movie example. The numerous unnecessary details Tom adds to the plot to free Jim are taken from various books he's read.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Huck helps the fugitive slave Jim escape from being sold back into slavery even though he is told (and he believes!) he would go to hell for such actions.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Not the whole story, but the final act in which Huck and Tom plot to free Jim. Tom takes numerous tropes from prisoner stories he's read and adds them to their situation, unnecessarily making it more difficult. It turns out that he's doing all of this for fun, because he knows that Miss Watson passed away and emancipated Jim in her will.
  • Shaming the Mob: Colonel Sherburn calmly disperses an angry Lynch Mob with an epic "The Reason You Suck" Speech, telling them (as it turns out, correctly) that they are all too cowardly to lynch him. However, this is made ambiguous by the fact that Sherburn definitely does not have the moral high ground; he had just shot and killed a man in cold blood in the middle of the street in broad daylight. Twain was not a fan of the old Southern code of justice.
  • Shout-Out: Tom models his adventures on the stories he's read. The careful reader can identify the specific stories even when he doesn't mention the titles—for example, "Why, look at one of them prisoners in the bottom dungeon of the Castle Deef, in the harbor of Marseilles, that dug himself out that way."
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Despite its harsh theme of racism, its adventure vive and characters make it more on the idealistic end of the scale.
  • Snake Oil Salesman: The Duke and the King try this and several other sorts of swindles during their time in the story. They do fairly well for themselves, bringing in over $550 (in 1840s dollars; the equivalent of about $19,000 in 2022), but it backfires when the Duke uses most of their stash as seed money in the scam to steal Peter Wilks' fortune. They never get the money back and are eventually punished by being tarred and feathered and run out of town.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Plenty. For instance, Tom's first suggestion for a "mournful inscription" to write on the wall where Jim is imprisoned is "Here a captive heart busted."
  • Spotting the Thread:
    • Huck disguises himself as a girl but is ultimately discovered by a sharp-eyed old lady, who notices the way he threads a needle and catches a dropped chunk of lead.
    • In the Disney film, he is caught after throwing a pot to hit a mouse, and nails it—a girl wouldn't know how to throw the thing.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: Comes up a few times while he and Tom and plotting to help Jim escape the Phelps plantation, but Tom insists on adding all the flourishes in the adventure novels he's read.
    • Jim is being held in a locked cabin, with a chain running from his ankle to the leg of his bed (which isn't attached to the floor). Tom comments disappointedly that Jim can just lift his the bed to slip the chain free, then either go out the cabin window or get past the slave who brings his meals. (At one point, Jim does slip off the chain and leave the cabin to help Tom and Huck bring in their supplies.)
    • After Tom decides to tunnel into the cabin, Huck points out some old picks and shovels they can use, but Tom says they have to do it with knives. (They do eventually use the tools after digging with the knives leaves their hands sore and blistered.)
    • Tom decides they have to cut through the leg of Jim's bed in order to free him. Huck suggests that they use an old saw he's seen lying around, but Tom rejects that idea in favor of using a knife.
  • Stylistic Suck: Emmeline Grangerford's sappy poetry. Huck likes it, though, and even makes a brief attempt to write some in her style.
  • Suspiciously Specific Sermon: Played for Black Comedy. The Feuding Families of the Grangerfords and Shepherdsons both attend the same church and on the Sunday Huck visits along with the Grangerfords, the sermon is ironically about showing brotherly love for your neighbors.
  • Sympathetic Slave Owner:
    • According to Huck, Mary Jane Wilks is a compassionate girl to her family's slaves. For example, she was crying when one slave had to be sold and thus separated from his family, especially his children.
    • Zig-Zagged with Huck's adoptive mother the Widow Douglas. She's said to treat her house slave Jim reasonably well, but he runs away, joining up with Huck when she decides to sell him to another family and he can't be assured of similar treatment. The widow's sister ultimately frees him in her will.
  • Take That!: Huck and Jim run into a sunken, decayed steamship called Walter Scott.
  • Tar and Feathers: The King and the Duke, later. Huck even feels pretty bad for them when he sees them being hauled out of town, fully feathered.
  • Tasty Gold: Huck reluctantly gives a $1 coin to Pap, who bites into it to see if it's good and then leaves to spend it on whiskey.
  • The "The" Title Confusion: The novel was originally published as Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, no "the". More recent printings have added one.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: Subverted and probably deconstructed. Huck's internal "All right, I'll go to Hell" speech is about him deciding that being "righteous" isn't worth it if a friend is going to suffer. That already puts his "evil" under suspicion, which becomes even more so in context: said friend is Jim, and said Hell-worthy act is refusing to send him back to slavery.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: Huck's main conflict is the story is whether to do what he's been told is good, that is follow the rules and the law, or to follow what his own awakening moral sense tells him is right. His speech stating 'All right, I'll go to hell' is him choosing to do what he thinks is right even though his community has confused what is lawful with what is good to the point he believes he's risking hell by freeing Jim from slavery.
  • Took a Level in Dumbass: Tom comes across as... rather less clever here than he did in Tom Sawyer. He hasn't become stupider, not exactly, but he has undergone some Character Exaggeration and spends most of the book being Wrong Genre Savvy, partly as a Take That! to the romantic literature that Mark Twain hated but Tom is depicted as a big fan of. As such, his schemes and pranks come across as a lot more harebrained, especially since none of them accomplish anything other than make things ten times as difficult for everyone.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Tom can come across as having undergone a case of this, with how he's perfectly willing to put Jim's freedom at stake just so he can have an adventure. It is softened somewhat by the revelation that his real plan had been, as soon as he and Huck had broken Jim out, to tell Jim that he was a free man and then take him back to St. Petersburg on the steamboat, to ensure that he came home in style and was hailed as a hero by the entire community... it doesn't make the plan any less stupid and pointless, but it was at least made in some sort of mistaken belief that it would bring Jim some glory. It also helps immensely that at the end of the story he pays Jim $40 for being so patient about the entire thing... though it's uncertain if he'd planned that from the start too or if he'd just had a Heel Realization and wanted to make amends.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: It may not have been completely intentional on Mark Twain's behalf, given how he struggled to end the book, but Tom can definitely come across as this to Huck. When he re-enters the narrative, he pretty much takes charge of the story, and Huck's Character Development seems to regress as his admiration for Tom overrides his common sense, and he willingly steps in line to follow Tom's harebrained schemes because he just assumes Tom knows better than him.
  • Two Roads Before You: Huck deciding whether to do the right thing and turn in Jim.
    I was a-trembling, because I'd got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Lampshaded in the famous opening paragraph.
  • Villain Decay: Inverted by the Duke and the King. They start out as a couple of bumbling con artists, but become more and more sinister as the book progresses.
  • The Wicked Stage: Huck and Jim meet a two-man Shakespearean troupe. The guys are in town with "The Royal Nonesuch," and they turn out to be conmen. Their performance... didn't exactly meet with rave reviews.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Tom Sawyer, who, among other things, insists that he and Huck tunnel into Jim's cabin with knives instead of just stealing the key so they can unlock the door and let him out.
  • You Are Worth Hell: A platonic example. Huck genuinely believes that he'll go to Hell for rescuing Jim, but decides he doesn't care.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: At the end, Huck reunites with Tom and returns to childlike scheming, just to drive home that it's time to get past all that.

Alternative Title(s): The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn, Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures Of Huck Finn