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Themes

Alcohol use in Huck Finn is usually portrayed as compulsive and excessive, and it’s always a harmful activity. Huck’s father is an abusive alcoholic, and therefore his son can see nothing positive about the substance in any given situation. Every time a man touches a drop of alcohol in the novel, needless harm comes to him and/or innocent bystanders. Besides Pap’s drunken abuse of Huck, the king sells Jim back into slavery in order to get cash for a whiskey binge. Even a harmless town alcoholic (Boggs from Chapter 21) gets killed because he directs one of his drunken rants at the wrong guy.

Questions About Drugs and Alcohol

  1. How does having an alcoholic father affect Huck’s relationship with others (like other father figures, for example)?
  2. There’s a lot of boozin’ going on in this story, which is also concerned with larger issues like race and morality and friendship and loyalty. What’s the connection here?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Alcohol serves to satirize, denigrate, and condemn Southern culture in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

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