Huck leaves behind one family—an abusive, drunken one—to find family after family as he travels down the Mississippi River, from the feuding Grangerfords to the grieving sisters to the cozy Aunt Sally. He also comes up with fake families, one after another, whenever he needs a good tall tale to spin. It's almost as though he's trying to make up for how lousy his own family situation is. But in the end, Huck leaves behind both his potential new family of Aunt Sally and his family-like bond with Jim and Tom to become a true orphan, setting out for the territories. In Huckleberry Finn, does family make you stronger—or does it just hold you back?
Questions About Family
Huck chills out with a lot of different families along the river. What are differences between these families, and what does each one do for Huck's character?
We spend all this time talking about the families Huck gets involved with along the river—but what about the one he's already got on the raft with Jim? Is that like a family? If so, are they more like brothers, or is there a father-son dynamic going on?
Huck's real father is an abusive alcoholic. Does that mean he is no longer a father to Huck? Does he lose parental privileges because of his actions? What kind of privileges does Pap think he deserves—and what kind of responsibilities does he think he has?
Chew on This
Huck's journey along the river and the tales he tells about family are all part of his search for the perfect home. But he finds the entire familial system so flawed that he gives up and heads west at the end of the novel.
Huck's search for the perfect family ends in his realization that he already has a perfect family in his friends.