Liar, Liar

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EL 266

"I reckon you ain't used to lying, it don't seem to come handy; what you want is practice" (Twain 245)

The passage above, spoken by Levi Bell to Huck Finn, during the inquisition of the king and duke, was taken as an insult by Huck! How dare this lawyer tell him that he did not know how to lie! That's what his whole adventure consisted of, and Huck thought he was darn good at it too.

I think this passage plays into the morality issue of Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Huck is torn between his mischievous side, and the part of him that wants to do right. Earlier in the story he had wanted to do the "right" thing by turning Jim in, but decided against it. Huck still struggled with this issue throughout the story. At one point, when Huck found out that Jim had been sold by the king, he decided that he would "go to hell" rather than give Jim's chance at freedom. Huck was taught that by lying about Jim's whereabouts and true owner he was committing a large sin. But I think the good deed he did was far greater.

Despite his white lies, Huck was trying to save Jim. Even though they ended up in quite a few tight spots, Huck talked their way out. So I think, in this instance, his lies may be for the best.

2 Comments

Jessica Apitsch said:

I blogged about something very similar. I actually chose the quote where Huck is declaring he will go to Hell. Twain uses the shore (society) and the river(freedom) as symbols and Huck finds himself on shore on many occasions but always seems to return to the raft on the river. The society represented by the shore always made Huck feel that his actions were wicked and were because of his rebellious nature. When he feels that freeing Jim is right for him, why wouldn't it fall under the same category all of his other actions did: wickedness. But, like you said, I and I am sure every other reader can agree that this action is as far from wickedness as one can get. Even though Huck has grown a lot, he is still struggling with the battle between his conscience (which is wrong because of society) and his true beliefs. I guess Jim isn't the only one running from slavery.

I found it amazing how many lies he came up with so quickly! They were pretty impressive, even if he couldn't remember what he had said.

I would have to agree that in most cases, Huck's lies seem to help him through his travels as well as in working through his conscious.

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