In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the main character finds himself living in a society that does not suit him. Everywhere he looks, there are people who value things that he sees as meaningless. Huck Finn feels trapped and begins his journey down the river in an effort to find someone or some place that will bring him happiness. Almost immediately, he finds this person in the form of a runaway slave. In this story, Huck and Jim are against the entire world, and every person they come in contact with has the potential to destroy their plans of happiness and freedom.
Under these circumstances, Huck is forced to tell many lies, but the only one he regrets is the one that he tells Jim. The biggest and most harmful lie Huck tells is when he fakes his own murder in his father’s shack. He goes through a great deal of trouble to make sure that people believe that he is dead, and it is not until the end of the novel that it becomes known to the people of his hometown that he is actually alive. He had been a likable young boy, and people in the town had thought highly of him.
This is evident from his relationship with adults like the widow and the judge. Jim even tells him, I’s powerful sorry you’s killed, Huck, but I ain’t no mo’, now” (1292). Based on Huck’s consistent concern for others, it is likely that he would have written home to inform them that he was still alive if it had not been for his situation with Jim. However, he does not want to risk doing anything that might get Jim captured, so he writes no letter.
Huck finds himself working against the world. He is not an immature boy who tells lies just for the sake of doing so, but rather he tells them to protect himself and Jim. In the instance where he dresses up like a girl and speaks with the farmer’s wife in an effort to find out what is being said about their situation, the information that he gets ultimately saves them from the capture of a building search party. Even though he is caught in the first lie and it is discovered that he is actually a young boy rather than a girl, Huck manages to convince the woman that he is simply a runaway.
He quickly creates a new and better lie, and she has no idea about his true identity. In this instance of lies that Huck tells, there is no victim. Huck learns crucial information that he would have never gotten through honesty, and with this information, he is able to continue on his journey with Jim. Another one of Huck’s lies is one that he tells to the watchman on the steamship. He knows that this man is the only person who can help the group of murderers that were soon going to drown in the river. Under the circumstances, Huck could not tell the man the truth because he had stolen their boat to save Jim’s and his own life. Jim would have been in danger of being captured, and most likely the watchman would not have bothered to go save a band of murderers.
Since the truth was not an option, Huck creates an elaborate story of women in distress and reward money. After all is done, in reflection on his actions, Huck says, I was feeling rather comfortable on account of taking all of the trouble for that gang, for not many would have done it.” (1311) He clearly believes here that he has done a good thing in telling that lie. He knows that he saved these men’s lives, and he would not have been able to do so with the truth. The one lie that Huck clearly regrets telling is the one that he tells to Jim. After their accidental separation, Huck returns to the raft and acts as though he hasn’t been gone.
Huck claims that Jim imagined the entire thing. In response to Jim’s delight in seeing Huck alive and well, Huck says, What is the matter with you, Jim? Have you been drinking?” (1316). Jim asks Huck to look him in the eye and say that he had not been anywhere, and Huck does as he is asked. Jim soon realizes that Huck is not telling him the truth. Jim says to Huck, “Trash is what people are that put dirt on the head of their friends and make them ashamed.”
This makes Huck feel terrible. After apologizing to Jim, he claims that he would have never done it if he had known how it would make him feel. The above are not the only lies that Huck tells in this story. He is actually quite good at telling lies and continues to tell them until the end of the story. However, the majority of Huck’s lies have in common that they protect both him and Jim from the society of southerners that he has turned his back on. Huck chooses to follow what he feels in his heart rather than what he has been taught by those around him.
The lies he tells are told so that he can continue his search for happiness, truth, and freedom. For the most part, Huck’s lies are morally good, which seems like a contradiction. Ironically, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn ends with Huck’s salutation of Yours Truly.” The fact is that Clemens uses Huck’s morally sound lies as a reflection of the true nature of American society during the time of slavery.