WELL, I got a good going-over in the morning from old Miss
Watson on account of my clothes; but the widow she didn't
scold, but only cleaned
off the grease and clay, and looked so sorry that I thought I
would behave awhile if I could. Then Miss Watson she took
me in the closet and prayed, but nothing come of it. She told
me to pray every day, and whatever I asked for I would get it.
But it warn't so. I tried it. Once I got a fish-line, but no hooks.
It warn't any good to me without hooks. I tried for the hooks
three or four times, but somehow I couldn't make it work. By
and by, one day, I asked Miss Watson to try for me, but
she said I was a fool. She never told me why, and I couldn't
make it out no way.
Part 01 Huckleberry’s nighttime adventure with Tom left his clothes dirty so Widow Douglas and Miss Watson know he has snuck out in the night. Both women want to correct Huckleberry’s behaviour and Miss Watson’s uses religion in an attempt to make him change his ways.
I set down one time back in the woods, and had a long think about it. I says to myself, if a body can get anything they pray for, why don't Deacon Winn get back the money he lost on pork? Why can't the widow get back her silver snuffbox that was stole? Why can't Miss Watson fat up? No, says I to my self, there ain't nothing in it.
When we read this passage from chapter 3 we must remember what kind of life Huckleberry has had. Huckleberry has had to deal with adult problems such as finding food and shelter, for most of his young life and this reality has made him a very practical boy. This is why his prayers are concerned with acquiring fish hooks. Fish hooks are something a person who had had to fish for his food would consider to be valuable. Miss Watson has never had a child and knows nothing about them. She especially knows nothing about little boys so she is as ignorant about Huckleberry as he is about religion.
Because of this, she explains the way she believes Christianity and prayers work but she does not take the time to explain its true purpose.
This is why Huckleberry misses the point even though he does go off by himself and gives her words serious thought. He thinks about people he knows who are religious and wonders why praying did not help those people get the things they obviously needed. In the end, he rejects religion because it does not seem to work for him or the other people he mentions.
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.
Part 02 In this passage from chapter 3 Huckleberry shows a willingness to try new things. Tom had read about genies, probably in the story about Aladdin’s Lamp and shared what he had read with Huckleberry. Tom does not seem to be capable of telling the difference between a fable and real life and told Huckleberry that genies really exist. Huckleberry is sceptical but willing to learn new things.
Several times in the novel Huckleberry will encounter people who impress him and whom he believes know much more about the world and life than he does. Even when the things they tell him seem unlikely to be true, Huckleberry is willing to give these new ideas a chance. He does this when Miss Watson tells him about praying, and at the end of the novel, he lets Tom take the lead in planning their final adventure together. These things tell us that Huckleberry is open minded and that he does not have an enormous ego like Tom does. All Huckleberry wants is for his plans to succeed and he does not mind if other people take the credit for the good things he does. Huckleberry has the quiet courage and selflessness of all true heroes.