The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Study Guide

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a novel by Mark Twain about Huck, a mischievous boy, who runs away from his drunken father. Huck meets up with Jim, a runaway slave and they travel down the Mississippi on a raft. The two escape through various misadventures, including the family feud between the Grangerfofrds and Shepherdsons and the conning "duke and king." Finally, Jim is captured on the Phelps' farm, Huck plans an escape and, finally, it is revealed that Jim is now a freeman and Huck's father has died.

Huckleberry Finn

Narrator and main protagonist of the story. Huck is around fourteen years old, and the son of a trouble-causing alcoholic. He is adopted by the Widow Douglas, and is looked after by her, Miss Watson, and Judge Thatcher, who takes care of Huck's financial concerns. Huck learns to read and write, but does not go to school much, and so is basically uneducated. His knowledge of the realities of life, on the other hand, is much greater than many boys his age. His development is the main focus of the story, as he makes his way down the river and re-evaluates his views on slavery, society and "civilization."


Runaway slave and Huck's companion. Jim originally belongs to Miss Watson, but when he overhears her discussions about selling him to someone in New Orleans, he flees in the middle of the night. His wife and children work on farms nearby and he cannot bear the thought of being forced to live so far from them. He plans to gain his freedom by reaching a free state and then earning enough money to buy his family. Though extremely superstitious and uneducated, he is smart, good natured and quite protective of Huck.

Tom Sawyer

Huck's friend and confidant. He was the subject of Twain's earlier novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer , to which Huck Finn was intended to be a sequel. Tom is an avid reader of romance and adventure tales. Using his vivid imagination, he recreates his favorite situations from them whenever possible, often involving Huck. Tom's persuasive personality leads Huck to take part in Tom's imaginings, even though he cannot see the point of them.

The Widow Douglas

Huck's guardian. Involved in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer , the Widow Douglas (or just "the widow," as Huck calls her), takes Huck in since his father is uninterested in his development. Very religious, she expresses her plans to "civilize" him, and often reads to him from the Bible. She gives him new clothes and sends him to school. Though Huck does not enjoy this kind of attention, he appreciates her feelings for him, and tries to obey her requests when it is possible. Her view of Providence is gentle and kind.

Miss Watson

The widow's sister. Miss Watson lives with the widow and Huck and does her best to help "civilize" Huck. She is very religious, much like her sister, but in a stricter way. Her view of Providence is that of a disciplinarian, practically unforgiving and requiring exact obedience. She scolds Huck far more than the widow, and is harsher in her instruction. Jim is her slave, it is because she enters negotiations to sell him to a slave trader for eight hundred dollars that he runs away. She later regrets her decision and grants Jim his freedom in her will.


Huck's alcoholic and troublemaking father. Around fifty years old, he is absent at the beginning of the novel, but soon appears to try and gain access to Huck's money. Judge Thatcher and the widow resist, and go to the courts to become Huck's legal guardian. The judge on the case rules in favor of Huck's father, believing that it is a bad thing to separate a boy from his father. Huck's father proceeds to take advantage of this judge, and then take Huck to a cabin hidden in the woods outside of town. Huck escapes and soon after his aborted attempt to get his son's money, Huck's father dies.

Judge Thatcher

One of Huck's attempted guardians. He looks after the money that Huck and Tom discover at the end of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer . He takes it from Huck and invests it for him, giving Huck money when he asks for them. Judge Thatcher, along with the widow, attempts to become Huck's legal guardian when Huck's father returns. He is also involved with the search for Huck's body after Huck fakes his own death to escape the cabin in the woods.

Ben Rogers

A lead member of Tom Sawyer's Gang, at the beginning of the novel. He is the boy who asks the most questions about Tom's plans. He points out many of the inconsistencies, such as the fact that no one knows what it means to ransom someone. He is eventually placated, though he remains doubtful of the efficacy of the gang.

Judith Loftus

A woman living on the outskirts of Huck's town. Fairly new to the area, she does not know Huck, so, pretending to be a girl, gets information from her about the happenings in the town. It is from her that he discovers that a group of men are planning to search the island where he and Jim are hiding. She is not fooled by his clothing, and explains to him the things that gave him away. However, she does not find out his true identity, and she sends him away with a caution to tell better lies in the future.

The Grangerfords

The family that Huck stays with after his raft is run over by a steamboat. He stumbles upon their land after being separated from Jim. They are a wealthy, genteel family who take him in. The father, Col. Grangerford is a perfect example of a proper Southern gentleman. His family is part of a feud with the Shepherdson family, which has been going on for about 30 years. One of the daughters, Sophia, has a secret relationship with Harney Shepherdson, and they run off together, after communicating their plans to each other through Huck. This prompts a fierce battle between the families, where the father and most of the sons die.

The Shepherdsons

A genteel family in Kentucky involved in a long-lasting feud with the Grangerford family. Huck does not meet any of them, but he sees Harney Shepherdson, who Buck Grangerford almost kills. Harney runs off with Sophia Grangerford, which prompts a bloody battle between the two families, causing heavy losses on both sides.

The duke

A con-man that Huck and Jim meet after they escape the feud. He was run out of a town after they discovered that the product he sold, which he said would take tartar off the teeth, proved to take the enamel off as well. Mainly a journeyman printer, he claims to be the rightful Duke of Bridgewater. Amongst his other schemes, he is a fan of putting on Shakespearean plays, and he convinces the king to join him. He plays the part of William Wilks, Peter Wilks's deaf and dumb brother, but is hesitant to follow the king's plans. He proves himself to be less greedy and sharper witted than the king.

The king

A con-man that Huck and Jim meet after they escape the feud. He was run out of a town after holding a temperance revival, only to be found drinking on the side. After the duke's story of lost royalty, he claims to be King Louis XVII. He agrees to the duke's plan to put on Romeo and Juliet, and then leads the way as Harvey Wilks, in a scam to get an inheritance. Extremely greedy, he decides to continue masquerading as Wilks, in order to sell the man's house as well. He is responsible for turning Jim in to the Phelpses.

Mary Jane Wilks

Daughter of the deceased Peter Wilks. She is the woman the duke and the king attempt to fool into thinking that they are her uncles. She is beautiful, kind and gentle, and is ready to think the best of the two men who claim to be relatives. She is convinced by Huck that she has been tricked, and follows his advice to best catch the men in the act.

Joanna Wilks

Daughter of the deceased Peter Wilks. Mary Jane's sister, Joanna is often known as "harelip." Like her sister, she believes that the king and the duke are her father's brothers, though she is the only in the family to faintly doubt their story, after speaking with Huck about living in England.

Dr. Robinson

An old friend of Peter Wilks and his family. He is absent when the duke and the king first introduce themselves to Mary Jane and her sisters. When he arrives, he immediately doubts the veracity of their story, and insists that Mary Jane throw them out. She refuses, but he is one of the men most involved when the real Wilkses show up.

Aunt Sally Phelps

Aunt Polly's sister, who lives on a farm in Kentucky. She and her husband keep Jim on their farm while they send word to New Orleans. She is the first to speak with Huck, and she immediately believes him to be her nephew Tom Sawyer, who is scheduled to visit. She is friendly and kind but unfortunately the subject of their tricks and mischief as they work to free Jim.

Uncle Silas Phelps

Aunt Polly's brother-in-law, who lives on a farm in Kentucky. He is the man who pays the duke and the king money to get the rights to the fake reward for Jim. Somewhat absent-minded, but generous to a fault, he is Huck's ideal father figure. A part time reverend he spent his own money to build a church on his property, and he treats his family kindly.

The doctor

The man who removes the bullet in Tom Sawyer's leg, who turns Jim back in to the Phelps family. Huck finds him in the middle of the night and directs him to where Tom and Jim are hiding. Knowing Jim to be a runaway slave, he brings him back to the Phelps's farm in chains. Although he turns him in, he informs the Phelps family of Jim's kindness and generous help in helping with the surgery, and nursing Tom afterwards.

Aunt Polly

Tom Sawyer's guardian. She is a major part of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer , but in this novel is a minor character. She is Mrs. Phelps's sister, and it is her visit to Phelps's farm that uncovers Tom and Huck's true identities. She acts as the voice of reason after the confusion of Jim's escape. She came down for a visit when a letter from her sister mentioned that Sid Sawyer was visiting along with Tom--something she knew could not be true.

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