Study Guide

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapter 3

By Mark Twain

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Chapter 3

  • Huck gets in trouble for his clothes being dirty. It seems that dirty clothes, like slouching at dinner, are a ticket straight to Hell.
  • But religion isn't really coming through for Huck (as he points out to Miss Watson), since it fails at such important endeavors as getting him fishhooks when he prays for them.
  • What good is prayer if it doesn't get you what you want?
  • Miss Watson counters that Huck should pray for spiritual gifts, like helping other people.
  • Huck doesn't see any advantage in this, so he drops the subject.
  • Next we hear about Huck's father, a.k.a. "Pap," an abusive alcoholic who everyone thinks is dead. Huck isn't so sure, but he really hopes Pap doesn't show up again.
  • Tom Sawyer's gang gets together and plays cops n' robbers.
  • Huck makes a point of telling us that no one really dies or gets robbed—it's all just in good fun. (Like violent video games, which we know do absolutely no harm to young people.)
  • We see one of their games in particular: Tom gathers them all up in a hurry to report that there's a band of "A-rabs" with chests of treasure coming through town, and that they need to go attack.
  • But the band isn't made up of "A-rabs" so much as townspeople on a Sunday School picnic. Bummer.
  • Tom responds that Huck would be able to see the A-rabs, if he'd read Don Quixote and knew that their enemy magicians had made the band appear to be a Sunday School picnic.
  • See, there are a bunch of rules about magicians and genies and magic lamps.
  • Huck thinks the whole thing is ridiculous. If he were a genie, he'd never let anyone else tell him what to do. He'd just grant his own wishes.
  • In fact, he rubs a lamp a few days later to see if Tom was right about genies. (He wasn't.)

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