Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Pap's Role in Huck's Journey

The character Pap in Huck Finn servers several roles in creating, foreshadowing, and representing various struggles in Huck's life. First and foremost, Pap's role was as a way to facilitate a journey in the first place. As a rampaging abusive drunk, Pap has already set Huck up to be in a downtrodden position, outcast from society by birth. This is arguable what allows Huck to relate with Jim, and the reason he is friends with Tom Sawer, in addition to posessing and/or inheriting his street smarts. Pap's character does more than just facilitate the possibility for Huck to make this adventure as he does, but facilitates the need for this adventure by returning from his absence, demanding Huck's money, and abusing Huck, forcing him to run away, setting everything into motion.
More than just a plot device, however, Pap is our first representation of opposition, specifically, actively harmful behavior stemming from society. Pap is a greedy, unfeeling, immoral, outcast, displaying a pertinent fact that needed to be said before the adventure could begin - that not everyone who lives outside the boundaries of social norms is good or even capable.
This brief encounter with Pap sets us up for Jim shortly thereafter, as Jim seems to have all of the important characteristics that Pap does not. Pap is abusive while Jim is kind and even afraid for himself; Pap wants Huck for his money while Jim wants Huck for companionship; Pap abuses and belittles Huck while Jim encourages Huck and does what he can to help him (taking his shift watching the raft, etc.)

PS: Stretchy Cat, gogogo!

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