Parental Influence on Huck Finn
In Mark Twain's novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the adults in Huck's life play an important role in the development of the plot. Pap, Huck's father, constantly abuses the boy, never allowing him to become an intelligent or decent human being. He beats and attacks Huck whenever they meet up, and tries to destroy Huck's chances of having a normal life. This situation is balanced by several good role models and parent figures for Huck. Jim, the runaway slave, embraces Huck like a son, and shares his wide ranging knowledge with him. He also protects Huck on the journey down the river. Widow Douglas is another good role model for Huck. She tries to civilize him and make him respectable to society, while also being caring and compassionate. There is a stark contrast in the ways Huck is treated by adults, and all have an affect on him.
In the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Pap is a horrible parent to Huck, and constantly berates him. When he hears about Huck's new 6000 dollar fortune, he comes back to town to get back his son and the money. He is furious when he finds that he cannot get the money, and he becomes even more enraged when he finds out that Huck is going to school and living a civilized life. He says to Huck
You're educated, too, they say; can you read and write. You think you're
better n your father, now, don't you, because he can't? I'll take it out of
you. (Twain 19)
Pap says this during their first meeting in the book. He cannot believe that Huck is becoming an educated person and having a normal life. Pap is already angry because of Huck's money, and now he is just irate.
Pap is a selfish person. He abandoned Huck as a child and has spent his entire life drinking. The only time he comes to visit Huck is when he hears about the fortune that Huck acquired. T.S. Elliot said, "Huck is alone: there is no more solitary figure in fiction. The fact that he has a father only emphasizes its loneliness; and he views his father with a terrifying detachment" (329). Most parents like to see their children excel in life and become productive members of society, but Pap is thinking only about himself. Instead of wishing the best for his son, he is angry because he is becoming a better person than his father. This man would be an awful influence on any child, and should be kept away from Huck.
Pap is known as the town drunk. Every dollar he gets he spends on whiskey. He is an angry drunk, and beats Huck during his drinking spells. One night after he kidnaps Huck, he gets very drunk, which Huck describes. He says
all of the sudden there was an awful scream and I was up. There was Pap, looking wild and skipping around every which way and yelling about snakes. He said they was crawling up his legs; and then he would give a jump and scream, and say one had bit him on the cheek - but I couldn't see no snakes. (Twain 28)
This is a disturbing account of what Huck went...