The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Mark Twain
Main Ideas

Metaphors and Similes

Main Ideas Metaphors and Similes

Chapter 4

Dey’s two angels hoverin’ roun’ ’bout him. One uv ’em is white en shiny, en t’other one is black. De white one gits him to go right a little while, den de black one sail in en bust it all up. A body can’t tell yit which one gwyne to fetch him at de las’. 

As Jim is reading Huck’s fortune on the hairball, he uses a familiar metaphor for Pap’s conflicted conscience: one angel represents Pap’s desire do the right thing, which is often overpowered by the temptation of the other angel. 

Chapter 5

His hair was long and tangled and greasy, and hung down, and you could see his eyes shining through like he was behind vines. 

In this simile, Huck compares his father’s long, tangled hair to vines hanging down in front of his eyes, suggesting that he is wild and unruly. 

Chapter 7

Well, all at once here comes a canoe; just a beauty, too, about thirteen or fourteen foot long, riding high like a duck.

In this simile, when Huck spots an empty canoe floating down the river, he compares it to a duck; since it has no weight in it, the canoe is “riding high” with very little of its hull submerged, much like a duck’s body doesn’t sink much in the water. 

I shot head-first off of the bank like a frog, clothes and all on, and struck out for the canoe.

In this simile, when Huck spots an empty canoe floating down the river, he thinks he will be able to retrieve it and sell it for ten dollars; in his excitement, he instantly dives in after the canoe, much like a frog diving off the bank in a split second.

Chapter 11

I reckon I shook like a leaf, and I didn’t know hardly what to do.

When Mrs. Judith Loftus realizes Huck is disguised as a girl, Huck uses this simile to compare his own fearful trembling to that of a shaking leaf. 

Chapter 15

The whooping went on, and in about a minute I come a-booming down on a cut bank with smoky ghosts of big trees on it . . .

In this metaphor, Huck is paddling his canoe on a foggy night, desperately trying to catch up with the raft, which has drifted away on the current; he nearly runs aground on a shoreline with big trees, which he compares to “smoky ghosts” because of the way they seem to suddenly emerge, threateningly, out of the fog.

Chapter 16

Well, here she comes, and we said she was going to try and shave us; but she didn’t seem to be sheering off a bit.

In this metaphor, Huck compares an oncoming boat to a razor that threatens to shave the raft, sheering off part of the raft as it passes by.

She was a big one, and she was coming in a hurry, too, looking like a black cloud with rows of glow-worms around it; but all of a sudden she bulged out, big and scary, with a long row of wide-open furnace doors shining like red-hot teeth, and her monstrous bows and guards hanging right over us.

Huck uses a pair of similes in this passage to describe the glow of the steamboat’s lights against its dark figure. First, he compares the steamboat to a black cloud surrounded by glow-worms, but then as it draws nearer, he likens the steamboat to a monster with glowing, red-hot teeth, which are actually the boat’s furnace doors.

Chapter 18

[Colonel Grangerford] didn’t ever have to tell anybody to mind their manners—everybody was always good-mannered where he was. Everybody loved to have him around, too; he was sunshine most always—I mean he made it seem like good weather. When he turned into a cloudbank it was awful dark for half a minute, and that was enough; there wouldn’t nothing go wrong again for a week.

Huck uses several weather-related metaphors to characterize Colonel Grangerford, whose mood can change from pleasant to threatening like a sunny day giving way to a storm.

Chapter 28

Why, it’s because you ain’t one of these leather-face people. I don’t want no better book than what your face is. A body can set down and read it off like coarse print.

Here Huck uses a complex metaphor to explain to Miss Mary Jane why she is not a very convincing liar. Her face, he says, is like the text in a book, making it easy for anyone to “read” her inner thoughts.