Huck Finn Tries to Summon a Genie

Huck Finn Tries to Summon a Genie Fiction Nineteenth Century Life Visual Arts


As Tom Sawyer concocts plans for his “Gang,” he relies on his imagination to conjure-up elephants, camels, people-to-battle and a host of other cool things.

Huck Finn thinks all of Tom's ideas are real and is mightily disappointed when he doesn’t see what he’s expecting:

I didn't believe we could lick such a crowd of Spaniards and A-rabs, but I wanted to see the camels and elephants, so I was on hand next day, Saturday, in the ambuscade; and when we got the word we rushed out of the woods and down the hill. But there warn't no Spaniards and A-rabs, and there warn't no camels nor no elephants. It warn't anything but a Sunday-school picnic, and only a primer-class at that.

Then Tom tells Huck about genies, and how a body could summon a genie to “come forth” out of an old tin lamp or an iron ring. Huck thinks he’ll give that a try.

This image, by E.W. Kemble, appears in the third chapter of the first edition of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn  (Part 1). It illustrates these words of the story (describing Huck’s efforts to summon a genie):

I thought all this over for two or three days, and then I reckoned I would see if there was anything in it. I got an old tin lamp and an iron ring, and went out in the woods and rubbed and rubbed till I sweat like an Injun, calculating to build a palace and sell it; but it warn't no use, none of the genies come. So then I judged that all that stuff was only just one of Tom Sawyer's lies. I reckoned he believed in the A-rabs and the elephants, but as for me I think different. It had all the marks of a Sunday-school.

Why does Huck take so much of what Tom says in a literal way? Why would Huck think he could actually summon a genie by rubbing on an old tin can?

Would you consider Huck to be:

  • Naive?
  • Innocent?
  • Something else?

Click on the image for a better view.

Media Credits

Image, described above, online via Archive.org.




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"Huck Finn Tries to Summon a Genie" AwesomeStories.com. Jul 18, 2014. Dec 13, 2019.
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