Pap is Huckleberry Finn’s father.  Huck describes him by saying he was around fifty, with long, greasy, black hair that his eyes shine through, and skin that had no color to it whatsoever (Twain 17).  He also describes his father’s clothes as  “just rags” (Twain 17).  Pap is the antagonist of the novel, a racist, selfish, abusive, and alcoholic father who is hated by everyone in the town for the way he treats his son.  Pap serves as a representation of what racist people are really like in nature, and how terrible they truly are.

Pap’s impact on the story is critical when analyzing the racism satire that this novel embodies.  The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a satirical novel that brings up the problem of racism during pre-Civil War time in America.  We first see Pap’s racist nature when he says “And that ain’t the wust. They said he could VOTE when he was at home. Well, that let me out. Thinks I, what is the country a-coming to?” (Twain 24), bashing the American country for allowing a black man to vote.  By embodying the racist character in Pap, a terrible human being who mistreats his young son and kidnaps him in an attempt to steal his money, Twain is able to get readers to see racism as Pap.  Twain attempts to get readers to view racists as disgusting and terrible people so that they will associate racism as being disgusting and terrible.

Pap is motivated by Huck’s wealth and the idea of getting it for himself.  In chapter five when Pap says “I’ve been in town two days, and I hain’t heard nothing but about you bein’ rich.  I heard about it away down the river, too.  That’s why I come.  You git me that money to-morrow–I want it” (Twain 18) he blatantly tells us his reasoning for coming back to Huck.  At first, readers think he is back to change his ways and to try to reconcile for all he has failed to do for Huck.  However, when Pap tells us the reason he came back was to get Huck’s money, we see that he doesn’t care about Huck, he is greedy, and only worries about himself.  Pap even goes as far as kidnapping his own son to get his money, a move that only furthers the awfulness of his personality, and the reader’s perception of racist people.

Do you think that Pap is put in the storyline to get readers to feel a certain way about racism?  Or is he simply just a terrible character who adds another plotline?





Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Youth Voices is an open publishing platform for youth. The site is organized by teachers with support from the National Writing Project. Opinions expressed by writers are their own.

CC BY-SA 4.0All work on Youth Voices is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License


We welcome new members. You can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Missions on Youth Voices

Log in with your credentials


Forgot your details?


Create Account