In chapter 11 of Huckleberry Finn, Huck dresses up as a girl and goes ashore in order to find out what is happening in his town. During his trip, Huck is forced to lie many times in order to maintain the idea that he is a girl. Once Huck learns that he and his slave-friend Jim are being chased, he quickly makes a decoy in order to “buy some time” for Jim and himself to get away. The combination of Huck’s compulsive dishonesty and his quick thinking reveals that Huck is cunning. When Huck goes ashore in chapter 11, he enters Judith Loftus’ house. On page 57, Huck accidentally tells Mrs.
Loftus that his name is Mary, though he had told her earlier that it was Sarah: “What did you say your name was, honey? ” “M—Mary Williams. ” … “Honey, I though you said it was Sarah when you first come in? ” “Oh, yes’m, I did. Sarah Mary Williams. Sarah’s my first name. Some calls me Sarah, some calls me Mary. ” In this passage, Huck accidentally contradicts his original lie that his name is Sarah, telling Mrs. Loftus that his name is Mary. Huck is able to recover, however, and makes it sound like he can be called either Sarah or Mary. This is an example of Huck’s cunning.
He is able to quickly fabricate a story that sounds like it is the truth. We see another example of Huck’s cunning on page 59, when Mrs. Loftus realizes that Huck is a boy. Huck is again forced to lie to Mrs. Loftus in order to protect his true identity. He tells her that he believes that he is in the town of Goshen: …I said I believed by uncle Abner Moore would take care of me, and so that was why I struck out for this town of Goshen. “Goshen, child? This ain’t Goshen. This is St. Petersburg. Goshen’s ten mile further up the river. Who told you this was Goshen?
” “Why, a man I met at daybreak this morning, just as I was going to turn into the woods for my regular sleep. He told me when the roads forked I must take the right hand, and five mile would fetch me to Goshen. ” When Mrs. Loftus asks Huck who had told him that he was in the town of Goshen, Huck is forced to fabricate a lie on-the-spot. He does this successfully, and the woman believes him. This is another example of Huck’s cunning. He is again able to quickly make up a lie that sounds truthful. Yet another example of Huck’s cunning is seen later in the chapter.
While Huck is in Mrs. Loftus house, he learns that he and Jim are being chased, and that their hiding place is known. When Huck left the woman’s house, he immediately goes to the island where he and Jim had been staying. Huck makes a campfire at the other end of the island from the campsite. Huck knew that he was being closely chased, and that he didn’t have a moment to lose. Huck lit the fire at the other end of the island from his in order to buy some time for Jim and himself to get away. Huck was able to buy some time by setting the fire at the other end of the island.
The men went to the fire while Huck gathered his things. This is another example of Huck’s cunning. He was able to quickly think of a decoy so that he could have time to pack. If he had not thought quickly – if he had not been cunning – Huck and Jim may have been caught. Throughout chapter 11 of Huckleberry Finn, we see examples of Huck’s cunning. He is able to fabricate lies, and make decoys so that he and Jim will not be caught. If it were not for this cunning – if Huck did not have the ability to fabricate these lies or make these decoys – he and Jim would surely have been captured.