The story of Huckleberry Finn starts out by Huck telling us that he and Tom Sawyer found $6,000 worth of gold that a band of robbers stole. With the help of Judge Thatcher, Huck put his money in the bank where it earns a dollar a day interest (quite a lot of money for that time!). Right from the start we can see Huck is no ordinary boy as he is rich beyond belief and goes on these adventures. He now lives with the Widow Douglas who vows to “sivilize” him, something that Huck wants no part of. Along with the history of his adventure, Huck speaks of wanting to smoke. I know Huck is a boy, but exactly how old is he? Chapter one ends as Huck is reunited with Tom Sawyer.
Chapter 2 begins with the boys roaming the yard mischievously. During their escapade, we are introduced into Miss Watson’s slave, Jim, who hears the boys sneaking around and comes to investigate the noise he heard. Jim eventually falls asleep, and Tom takes Jim’s hat off and puts it in a tree to play a trick on him. When Jim wakes, he thinks the unexplained moving of his hat had to be witchcraft. Jim is a firm believer in superstition and luck, this being the first example we are shown. Next, we are introduced to the group of boys who are to be known as “Tom Sawyer’s Gang,” The gang has a number of fantastic rules, all established by Tom. The members all must take an oath of secrecy, and whoever breaks the oath “must have his throat cut,” and anyone who causes harm to anyone in the gang must be killed along with their family and have a cross hacked into their chests. The gang’s order of business is “…only robbery and murder” according to Tom because it’s “…in the books.” Here we have a group of boys, probably no older than ten, talking about murdering and robbing people. After talking briefly in class, I think this is Twain’s first attempt to show us that being literate and educated does not always translate to being smart. Tom’s visions are incredibly whimsical, but the boys all go along with what he says simply because he has read many books (which seem to all be works of fiction). This reminds me of two things: first, it reminds me of people I know who are book smart and not common-sense smart, which are two very different things (although this idea is relatively and not directly applicable to the topic); second, it reminds me of our discussion of mob mentality. Solely because one person (Tom) appears to be educated, the other boys place him in a superior position than they and go along with all of his ideas (further shown when Tommy Barnes falls asleep, wakes up scared and cries, and all the boys call him a cry-baby). All it takes is one person who seems superior to take a leadership role and everyone falls behind him.
Chapter 3 begins with the introduction of religion in the story. Miss Watson tells Huck to pray every day and he will get everything he wants. Huck is confused at Miss Watson’s advice to pray for other people, thinking solely about material things (Deacon Winn’s money, the widow’s silver snuff-box) and that there is no benefit for Huck himself. This reminds me of Kohlberg’s stages of development; especially stage 2 (what’s in it for me?). This is the beginning of us watching Huck’s character mature and develop. We next are given a brief introduction to Huck’s father, who hasn’t been around for a year, and whom Huck is not fond of. Again, we are shown the boys playing robbers, only this time, Huck begins to question Tom Sawyer. When the boys are looking for the diamonds, Arabs, and elephants Tom claims are present and find nothing, Huck begins to argue with Tom. Tom claims that a magician and genies were hiding the diamonds, Arabs and elephants from the boys. Huck counters by questioning the genies origin and validity, and wonders why the enemies do not use the genies for their benefit instead of duping the boys. This is just another example of Tom’s fanciful ideas and imagination, and is a glimpse at the levelheadedness that Huck possesses.