Character Analysis: Judith Loftus in "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"

Emily Maddox By Emily Maddox, 22nd May 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1l5yvszp/
Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Books>Children's Books

Although she appears in only one chapter, Judith Loftus has much importance in "Huckeberry Finn."

Analysis

Although she only appears in one chapter, and nameless until the very end of it, Judith Loftus is a fascinating character in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” She reveals her personality and values (inconsistent though they are) in her words and actions and works as a counterpoint to Huck.

In Chapter Eleven of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” Huck, disguised as a girl, enters the home of a woman. The woman, described as having “little shiny eyes” offers Huck a place to sit, as she tries to discern his name and place of origin. Huck tells her his name is Sarah Williams, and she continues to ask questions, revealing she’s sharp, when she catches his inconsistencies and lies. She also tests him, watching him attempt to thread a needle and asking him to throw lead at the rats. It’s at that point, she calls him out for being a boy.

The irony is that while Judith Loftus believes she’s being helpful to Huck, her sharpness is actually placing Jim in danger. Huck casually asks her about what’s going on in the town, and she begins talking about his and Tom’s legend and Huck’s alleged murder. She reveals the town is divided in thinking either Jim or Pap is the murderer, and there are rewards for both of them, the larger one for Jim. Mrs. Loftus reveals not only does she believe Jim should be caught, but that she’s actively looking for him, (through her husband) and she thinks he hasn’t gone far, and that he’s hiding on Jackson Island because she saw smoke from a fire there a few nights prior. Of course, she is exactly right, and Huck must escape so he can get to Jim before it’s too late.

The ultimate irony, though, is when Mrs. Loftus reveals she knows Huck is a boy. She promises to keep his secret, offer him aid, and not to turn him in. She assumes he’s a runaway apprentice who had a mean master. The irony seems to be lost on Huck, who is more concerned with telling the woman what she wants to hear, so he can escape with Jim before it’s too late. The inconsistency of her values isn’t lost on the readers, though. She is willing to help Huck, who isn’t even really a runaway apprentice, but she believes Jim’s escape (from a situation much worse than the one she assumed Huck was in) is morally and legally wrong, and she’d give him over to the authorities in an instant. Instead, Huck tricks her by telling her exactly what she wants to hear, and he makes it to Jim in time to escape detection.

In one chapter of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” Judith Loftus works to provide Huck with necessary information. She also reveals her personality, values, and the inconsistencies in the thoughts and values during the era of slavery.

Tags

Literary Analysis, Literary Criticism, Literary Fiction, Literature, Literature Analysis

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author avatar Emily Maddox
I'm a recent college graduate with an English MA. I write primarily about music, literature, writing, and teaching writing.

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