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A disguise through Society
Huck Finn, the main character of Twains The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, travels down the Mississippi River in search of personal truth and freedom, which ironically he achieves by living a lie. Hucks journey causes him to wear a variety of disguises and masks to survive. Unfortunately however, the people he meets along the way wear disguises which they use to deceive and cheat the same society that Huck and Jim, a runaway slave, are trying to escape from. Jim must use his own cleverness, Hucks protection and disguises in order to avoid getting caught by society. Together, all these characters use disguises, which are lies in physical forms, to their advantage. Hucks motive is to escape the rules of a restricting society. The King and the Duke are con men who want only to cheat society and take what isnt theirs. Jim uses disguises for survival, to escape from social prejudice and unfair punishment.
While Huck is traveling down the river with Jim, he must lie and often disguise himself to survive on his own to conceal his identity. Huck rebels because he does not want to follow his aunts house rules or live up to her expectations which are to conform to social norms. This means he has to dress cleanly and neatly, use manners, go to school, and be polite to everyone. Huck also is confused because he wants to get away from his abusive father who excessively drinks. Huck is afraid of his father who has beaten him and verbally abused him repeatedly therefore, his only solution is to run away. He does this by faking his own death. Curiousity overwhelms him and he wants to know how society has taken to the news of his death. In order to get some information Huck disguises himself as a girl. He meets with Judy Lawson, a local woman, and asks about the disappearance of Huck Finn. Although his disguise works well, Judy Loftus starts to test him to disguise whether Huck is really a girl. As soon as Judy says, “Whats your real name? Is it Bill, or Tom, or Bob? -or what is it?”(Twain 70) Huck realizes he has no chance in pulling such pranks. When confronted with his lie Huck tells the truth and ends up making a friend who says he can count on her. Huck also tries to protect Jim from being captured by lying about himself and his situation. At one point Huck and Jim come upon two men looking for runaway slaves. Huck tells the men that he has a sick father on board and the men respond by saying, “keep away, boy–keep to looard. Confound it, I just expect the wind has blowed it to us. Your paps got smallpox, and you know it precious well. Why didnt you come out and say so? Do you want to spread it all over? (Twain 112). This part is significant because Huck protects Jim from becoming captured. He is willing to lie and disguise himself and Jim in order to protect his new friend and keep him from being captured. Huck also disguises himself as Tom toward the end of the novel. Toward the end of his adventures Huck comes to the home of the Phelpss, who raised Tom Sawyer They mistake him for Tom and when he asked, “its you at last -aint it?”(Twain 229). Huck who put his trust in fate answers yes without thinking anything. Aunt Sally says to the children, “you dont look as much like your mother as I reckoned you would, but law sakesIm so glad to see you …children, its your cousin Tom -tell him howdy ” (Twain 229). This was one lie that Huck was more comfortable with but was uneasy because he didnt know Tom would show up. Surely enough Tom arrives and Tom also must lie about his identity because Huck is pretending to be Tom. The significance of this is he does not admire Tom as much as he once did. He thinks that Toms thinking is immature and ridiculous. At this point in the novel, Toms values are very different from Hucks. Tom does not look at the big picture and is very inconsiderate. This is ironic because this used to be something than Huck and Tom enjoyed doing together but now Huck has grown up. Tom and Huck have an argument about how to get Jim out of Jail. Huck ridicules Toms silly idea when he says, “…if we go to tearing up our sheets to make Jim a rope ladder, we are going to get into trouble with aunt Sally…now the way I look at it, a hickory bark ladder dont cost nothing, and dont waste nothing…”(Twain 248). This argument shows the difference that has developed between Tom and Huck. Huck no longer sees life as a romantic game, like Tom does, but is concerned about helping Jim.
Aside from Tom and Jim, two other important