The story begins with Huckleberry Finn introducing himself to the audience and referencing his past adventures with his best friend, Tom Sawyer. He tells us that he has become rich as a result of he and Tom’s discovery of treasure in Injun Joe’s Cave, and that since then he has been living at the home of the Widow Douglas. She is a strict but kindly woman who shares her home with her sister Miss Watson, and together the two of them have resolved to raise Huck as a decent young man who can read and behave himself.
His new guardians and several other townspeople including Tom and Judge Thatcher inform Huck that he must learn to read the Bible if he ever hopes to make it to Heaven someday (“Do Ya Wanna Go To Heaven?”). Huck is not interested in schooling, however, and sneaks out of the house late that night to meet his friends at Injun Joe’s Cave.
There, the boys confer and ultimately decide to form a gang of robbers dedicated to raising hell across the countryside (“The Boys”). On the way home, Huck considers his life and its meaning (“Waitin’ For the Light to Shine”). When he arrives at the home of Widow Douglas, there is a nasty surprise waiting for him: Pap Finn, his no-account father, has returned to claim his son (and his son’s new trust fund). Despite resistance from the women and Judge Thatcher, Pap successfully wrangles Huck and quickly takes him to a solitary cabin in the woods. There, he drinks himself into a violent state, cursing a government that would take his son (and the aforementioned trust fund) away from him (“Guv’ment”).
After consuming an enormous amount of alcohol, Pap begins to hallucinate that Huck is actually the Angel of Death, and tries to kill him. Fortunately the boy scrambles out of the way and Pap collapses in a drunken mess. The next morning after his father leaves the cabin, Huck takes the opportunity to fake his own death (again) by slaughtering a hog and trailing its blood around the property. He comments that this is a