Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Pap's Role in Huck's Life

Pap represents an inferiority complex for Huck Finn. Unlike Tom Sawyer, Huck was never complimented and convinced of his own worth while he was growing up. Instead, his father abused him and dragged him to the lowest tiers of society. Huck was not allowed to be educated, nor was he loved and cared for by his father. He grew up in an environment in which it was impossible for him to be proud of himself. This negative self-image is evident from the very beginning of the book, when Huck says, "... seeing as I was so ignorant, and so kind of low-down and ornery," (Twain 11). Pap has ruined religion and manners for Huck, so that he believes he cannot fit into higher levels of society.

This poor opinion Huck holds of himself leads to his idolization of Tom Sawyer. He always comments that Tom does things with more "style," and that Tom is more adventurous and intelligent that he is. Pap has instilled this submissive attitude in his son by years of abuse and neglect. Since Huck does not believe his opinion has worth, he is willing to follow Tom's foolish plans and ignore his own good judgment.

Huck is finally freed from his father's clutches when Jim informs him Pap was the dead man in the house they saw floating on the river. Without a tangible object to fear, Huck can begin to come into his own person and realize his own self-worth. Pap symbolized Huck's insecurities, and his death becomes Huck's release from his self-imposed inferiority to Tom and other members of high society.

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