Huckleberry "Huck" Finn is the son of the town's vagrant drunkard, "Pap" Finn. Sleeping on doorsteps when the weather is fair, in empty hogsheads during storms, and living off of what he receives from others, Huck lives the life of a destitute vagabond. The author metaphorically names him "the juvenile pariah of the village" and describes Huck as "idle, and lawless, and vulgar, and bad," qualities for which he was admired by all the children in the village, although their mothers "cordially hated and dreaded" him.
Huck is an archetypal innocent, able to discover the "right" thing to do despite the prevailing theology and prejudiced mentality of the South of that era. The best example of this is his decision to help Jim escape slavery, even though he believes he will go to hell for it .
His appearance is described in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. He wears the clothes of full-grown men which he probably received as charity, and as Twain describes him, "he was fluttering with rags." He has a torn broken hat and his trousers are supported with only one suspender.
Tom's Aunt Polly calls Huck a "poor motherless thing." Huck confesses to Tom in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer that he remembers his mother and his parents' relentless fighting that only abated with her death.
Huck has a carefree life free from societal norms or rules, stealing watermelons and chickens and "borrowing" boats and cigars. Due to his unconventional childhood, Huck has received almost no education. At the end of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Huck is adopted by the Widow Douglas, who sends him to school in return for his saving her life.
In Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the Widow attempts to "sivilize" the newly wealthy Huck. Huck's father takes him from her, but Huck manages to fake his own death and escape to Jackson's Island, where he coincidentally meets up with Jim, a slave who was owned by the Widow Douglas' sister, Miss Watson.
Jim is running away because he overheard Miss Watson planning to "sell him South" for eight hundred dollars. Jim wants to escape to Ohio, where he can find work to eventually buy his family's freedom. Huck and Jim take a raft down the Mississippi River in hopes of finding freedom from slavery for Jim and freedom from Pap for Huck. Their adventures together, along with Huck's solo adventures, comprise the core of the book.
In the end, however, Jim gains his freedom through Miss Watson's death, as she freed him in her will. Pap, it is revealed, has died in Huck's absence, and although he could safely return to St. Petersburg, Huck plans to flee west to Indian Territory.
In Tom Sawyer Abroad and Tom Sawyer, Detective, the published sequels to Huck Finn, however, Huck is living in St. Petersburg again after the events of his eponymous novel. In Abroad, Huck joins Tom and Jim for a wild, fanciful balloon ride that takes them overseas. In Detective, which occurs about a year after the events of Huck Finn, Huck helps Tom solve a murder mystery.
Huck is Tom Sawyer's closest friend. Their friendship is partially rooted in Sawyer's emulation of Huck's freedom and ability to do what he wants, like swearing and smoking when he feels like it. In one moment in the novel, he openly brags to his teacher that he was late for school because he stopped to talk with Huck Finn, something for which he knew he would receive a whipping. Nonetheless, Tom remains a devoted friend to Huck in all of the novels they appear in.
Jim, a runaway slave whom Huck