The Apple Falls Far From The Tree?

Pap Finn–the abusive father of Huckleberry Finn; not abusive in the sense of beatings, but rather a mentally insulting abuse: he was dealt a bad hand in life; his son was dealt a hand of triple aces; he wants to steal those triple aces out of his son’s hands and pass him a rotten deck. The same cards for each man. The same troubles for each man.

Huck’s cards, in this case, education and reading and writing, are to Pap a bunch of “…hifalut’n foolishness…” (Twain. 21). and all his son is accomplishing is “…puttin’ on frills…” (Twain. 22). He cannot stand to see his son best him–a universal reaction of fathers to their sons as their child grows beyond their mold to experience life personally.

Sons model themselves after their fathers. They are expected to see a role model in their parent, and when these expectations fall short what else does the father do than try to change himself in the eyes of his son; so the son can in turn turn over his own leaf and go out into society a responsible man, so says Pap Finn, “I’ll learn people to bring up a boy to put on airs…and let on to be better’n…his own father…” (Twain. 21).

This situation flips in the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

To the casual reader it is clear Pap Finn loathes his son’s good fortune and his carelessness towards all things homely–the uneducated backwoods lifestyle of Pap Finn. He does so because of one reason: the widow, a woman who “…put[s] in her shovel about…things[s]…ain’t none of her business.” (Twain. 21). She has taught Huck how to read and write; how to be civilized; and how to speak grammatically correct; and since these qualities were not easily afforded to Pap Finn he is bitter about his turn of the cards and so pursues a nasty path of guilting his son into giving him liquor money.

Apply the symbiotic father-eat-son relationship to the current world and the first and most prominent example is immigrant families: a son is granted an education of higher standing than his father; the father is outraged at his spread of knowledge and good fortune; and both men argue over their expanded stances on life–a moment forever repeating in history.

Such is the same between Huckleberry Finn and Pap Finn. Once the son receives education and traces the shape of his corner of the world he wants to do all he can to escape; even if that includes leaving his father a duller man, which is how it appears to the latter.

All is indicative of Structuralism and Semiotics.

Think daily,

A Southpaw