From the Beginning
These Huckleberry Finn quotes can be found near the beginning of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, one of the most famous Mark Twain books:
QUOTE: “You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth.” (Chapter One, VERY BEGINNING of the story)
Analysis: Huckleberry Finn is introducing himself to the reader, and Mark Twain is letting the reader know that this novel is a sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Readers will already know a lot about Huckleberry Finn if they have read Tom Sawyer’s novel; if they haven’t, then they will have to catch on as the book starts. Many of the events in the beginning of Huck Finn’s novel revolve around the end of Tom Sawyer.
QUOTE: “Mornings, before daylight, I slipped into corn fields and borrowed a watermelon, or a mushmelon, or a punkin, or some new corn, or things of that kind. Pap always said it warn’t no harm to borrow things, if you was meaning to pay them back, sometime; but the widow said it warn’t anything but a soft name for stealing, and no decent body would do it.” (Chapter 12)
Analysis: This is one of the most telling Huckleberry Finn quotes because it reveals a lot about Huck’s upbringing and his struggle with being civilized. It also tells how Huck justifies “stealing.” In this quote, Huck is saying he is just borrowing these foods from farmers and other households: but as he points out, Widow Douglas has told him before this is actually stealing. He gets the term “borrow” from his pa; but as we’ve already learned in earlier chapters, his pa can not be trusted and is a drunk. However, how else will Huck and Jim survive if they don’t “borrow” food? Could they hunt or fish or eat plants? Is Huck trying to justify his behavior and relying on his pa’s morals? Is he struggling with his behavior? This quote answers all of these questions and also reveals some of the themes of Mark Twain books.
From the Middle
Quote: “H’aint we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain’t that a big enough majority in any town?” (Chapter 26)
Analysis: The king says this to the duke when the duke wants to leave the village where they are scamming the townspeople. He is basically saying that most of the world is made up of fools; and so if fools are on your side, you have a lot of people who believe in you. Mark Twain made a lot of commentary about society in his book, and this is one of those statements. It also shows how the king feels about people, and why he is able to con and fraud people out of their money.
Quote: “I was a-trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself: ‘All right, then, I’ll GO to hell.’ ” (Chapter 31)
Analysis: With this Huck Finn quote, Huckleberry Finn is trying to decide if he should tell Miss Watson where Jim is. He wants to be free of sin, and so he writes a letter to Miss Watson revealing Jim’s location. But then he doesn’t feel right about turning in his own friend, and so he decides to tear up the letter and just resigns the fact that he will go to hell because that is what he learned during his lessons about people who help slaves. This is another commentary from Mark Twain about slavery. Twain did not believe slavery was right; and so of course, he thinks what Huck Finn did–tearing up the note–is the right action, and not a sin.
From the End
Quote: “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.” (Chapter the Last, end of book)
Analysis: Huckleberry Finn says this to the reader at the end of the novel, and it completely exemplifies Huckleberry Finn’s character and his quest for freedom. Two of the main themes throughout the novel is freedom and what it truly means to be “sivilized.” Here Mark Twain is still focusing on these themes and the struggle Huckleberry Finn has with both.
If you wonder more about any of the Huckleberry Finn characters and why they act or say the things they do, you can read Teaching Huckleberry Finn Characters, or learn more about the themes of this novel.
- The edition of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn used for this article is published by Dover Publications, Inc. from Mineola, New York in 2005.
This post is part of the series: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Study Guides
- Study Guide for Huckleberry Finn themes
- Study Guide for Characters from Huckleberry Finn
- Important Quotes from Huckleberry Finn