Widow Douglas

Widow Douglas, the prime mother figure in Adventures in Huckleberry Finn, is the strict, old, pious guardian of Huck Finn. Huck describes the basic nature of their relationship -"The Widow Douglas, she took me for her son, and allowed she would sivilize me; but it was rough living in the house all the time, considering how dismal regular and decent the widow was in all her ways; so when I couldn't stand it no longer, I lit out. I got into my old rags, and my sugar-hogshead again, and was free and satisfied"(1). In an attempt to further "sivilize" Huck, she also tries to get Huck to quit his other bad habits - "Pretty soon I wanted to smoke, and asked the widow to let me. But she wouldn't. She said it was a mean practice and wasn't clean, and I must try to not do it anymore"(3). The widow embodies civilization and everything respectable but Huck's ideal is to escape the traps of civilization. This ideal proves to be a difficult one to live up to for even his best friend Tom applies pressure on him to change - only allowing Huck to join his band of pirates if he "would go back to the widow and be respectable"(2).

Part of the widow's overall design is to instill Huck with religion. Huck recognizes the good intentions on her behalf -"The widow, she cried over me, and called me a poor lost lamb, and she called me lots of other names, too, but she never meant no harm by it"(2) but he cannot bring himself to accept them. She tries using the scripture to teach Huck about religion but to no productive end -"After supper she got out her book and learned me about Moses and the Bulrushers; and I was in a sweat to learn about him; but by and by she let it out that Moses had been dead a considerable long time; so then I didn't care about him, because I don't take no stock in dead people"(2). When she tries to instill good religious values - "I must help other people, and do everything I could for other people, and look out for them all the time, and never think about myself"(13), Huck is unable to understand the logic behind them. To Huck, everything about religion is illogical or contradictory. He yearns to accept religion but somehow gets denied every time -"Sometimes the widow would take me to one side and talk about Providence in a manner that would make my mouth water; but maybe the next day Miss Watson would take hold and knock it all down again"(14). Despite all of the widow's attempts, Huck never fully accepts religion.

Since the Widow functions as a reformer and mother figure, she can be associated with the following characters:

Mary Fairbanks