Pap: Character Analysis - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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      Pap Finn, a drunkard vagrant, is Huck's father. He is a middle-aged, illiterate man who treats Huck with a lot of cruelty. He is critical of Huck's school going and reprimands him for the same. He represents the failure of the concept of family. None of his actions serve as a model for his son. With his unkempt appearance and gauche ways, he gives his son no reason to emulate him. Though he plays a short role in the novel, his demeanor has a great bearing on Huck's actions. Tired of his brutality, Huck runs away and hides on Jackson's island from where he starts his odyssey with Jim. In a sense, the entire essence of the story springs from Pap's presence in Huck's life. Had the former not been there, Huck would have had no reason to leave home and join Jim on his journey downriver.


      Pap stands for the lowest wrung of the "civilized whites"; one who exhibits his racist attitude via his intolerance of the blacks. He takes a strong stance against "niggers" and doesn't abstain from "cussing" them. Talking about the "free nigger from Ohio", Pap says,

      "Oh, yes, this is a wonderful govment, wonderful. Why, looky here. There was a free nigger there from Ohio - a mulatter, most as white as a white man...... They said he could vote when he was at home. Well, that let me out. Thinks I, what is the country a-coming to? It was "lection day, and I was just about to go and vote myself if I warn't too drunk to get there; but when they told me there was a State in this country where they'd let that nigger vote, I drawed out. I says I'll never vote agin. Them's the very words I said; they all heard me; and the country may rot for all me- I'll never vote agin as long as I live". (Chapter 6).

      It is preposterous how a useless and vagrant "white" man can claim his superiority over a well-educated "nigger", merely on racial grounds. Through Pap's strong racist sentiment, Twain seeks to reveal his disgust at the irrationality of people's hatred towards those belonging to the black community. The nigger has done no wrong to Pap but the latter doesn't recoil when he calls the former a "thieving, infernal nigger".

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