The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

by: Mark Twain

Five Key Questions

Summary Five Key Questions

3) Why does Huck write the letter to Miss Watson informing her of Jim’s whereabouts?

In Chapter 31 Huck writes a letter to Miss Watson in order to purge his sins. Huck feels guilty about helping Jim, and he sits down to pray for his own self-improvement. But when he tries to pray the words won’t come, and Huck thinks he knows why: “it was because I was playing double. I was letting on to give up sin, but away inside of me I was holding on to the biggest one of all.” In essence, Huck realizes that he cannot match the words of his prayer with meaningful action. Huck’s inability to match word and action only perpetuates his original sin, which was to help Jim escape. In order to relieve the tension of his sinfulness, Huck resolves to make good on his word by putting pen to paper. Immediately after he writes the letter Huck feels relief: “I felt good and all washed clean of sin.” But as he starts to think about Jim’s companionship and the comfort it has offered, Huck’s sense of guilt resurfaces, and he rips up the letter.