Synopsis - TeacherWeb

The novel has about 112,000 words in 43 chapters of uneven length. The narrative begins in Huck's hometown
of St. Petersburg and ends in Pikesville, 1,100 miles down the Mississippi River, nearly a year later. The
narrative divides into three distinct sections.
Its first 11 chapters are set in or near St. Petersburg. The earliest chapters continue the action of The
Adventures of Tom Sawyer and are very much in the same vein. The narrative makes a sharp change when
Huck's father, Pap Finn, appears. Pap takes Huck upriver and keeps him in a cabin in Illinois. In chapter 7, Huck
fakes his own death and goes to Jackson's Island. There he finds the slave Jim, who has run away to avoid
being sold down the river. They remain on the island through chapter 11.
The second part of the narrative constitutes almost precisely half the entire text. In chapters 12 through 30,
Huck and Jim go down the Mississippi River on a raft, interrupting their journey several times with episodes on
shore. Nevertheless, this section of the novel contains virtually the entire story of the journey. In chapter 19,
two con men—the King and the Duke—board the raft and take control of the voyage.
The final part comprises chapters 31 through 43. All the action takes place in and around Pikesville, where Huck
finally rids himself of the King and the Duke. Meanwhile, Jim is captured and held prisoner at the nearby farm of
Silas and Sally Phelps. Huck goes to the Phelpses to help Jim escape and is mistaken for their nephew Tom
Sawyer. When Tom himself arrives, he pretends to be his own brother, Sid, and offers to help free Jim. Most of
the action in these chapters concerns Tom's elaborate "evasion" plans for Jim's escape. Huck, Jim, and Tom are
still in Pikesville at the conclusion.
Chapter 1
Huck Finn introduces himself as narrator and summarizes the most important events concluding The Adventures
of Tom Sawyer, in which he and Tom find and split a pirate treasure worth $12,000. Judge Thatcher now
manages their money, which earns each boy a dollar a day in interest. The Widow Douglas has taken Huck for
her son, and she and her spinster sister, Miss Watson, are trying to "sivilize" him. Huck chafes under the
confinements of his new life. Such things as clean clothes, shoes, his own room, regular meals, prayers, and so
on hold few attractions for him. He tries fleeing, but Tom persuades him to return so that he can be respectable
enough to join Tom's new robbers' gang.
When Huck returns, the widow cries over him, but life soon returns to its previous pattern. After supper, the
widow tells Huck about Moses and the "Bulrushers," but his interest soon fades. Miss Watson wears him down
with talk about the "good place" that only makes him hope that he will not go there if she does.
After Huck goes to his room, Tom Sawyer calls for him at midnight.
Chapter 2
As Tom and Huck sneak out through the widow's backyard, Huck trips, and Miss Watson's slave Jim comes out
to investigate. Unable to see anyone, Jim sits under a tree and falls asleep. Not able to resist playing a joke,
Tom puts Jim's hat on a limb over his head. Later, Jim makes a reputation among other slaves with stories
about the night he was bewitched.
Joe Harper, Ben Rogers, and two or three other boys join Huck and Tom and they all boat down the river. After
the others swear an oath of secrecy, Tom leads them to a hidden entrance to the cave that he found in Tom
Sawyer. Inside, they agree to form a robber's band to be called "Tom Sawyer's gang." They draw up an oath
that each boy signs in blood. One boy suggests that the family of any member who tells gang secrets should be
killed. The others like the rule; however, it seems to exclude Huck, who has no real family to kill. His offer of
Miss Watson is satisfactory, so he is allowed to join. At the end of the meeting, the boys tease young Tommy
Barnes for having fallen asleep. Tommy churlishly threatens to reveal the gang's secrets, but Tom buys his
silence for five cents. Huck returns home shortly before dawn.
Chapter 3
The next morning, Miss Watson scolds Huck for soiling his clothes. The widow, however, merely looks sorry,
making Huck feel guilty. Miss Watson prays with Huck in a closet and encourages him to pray daily, telling him
that he will get whatever he prays for. When he gets a fishline, but no hooks, he is confused as to the efficacy
of prayer. Occasionally, the widow talks to Huck about Providence and gets his hopes up, but Miss Watson
typically dashes them the next day.
Huck has not seen his father, Pap Finn, for over a year. A man found drowned in the river above town is
reported to be his father, but Huck senses that the drowned person is someone else.
After about a month in Tom's gang, Huck and the others quit. Huck is bored because they have not really
robbed or killed anyone, but merely pretended; he cannot share Tom's belief that enchantments are at work.
On one occasion, the gang gathered at Cave Hollow to attack Spanish merchants and rich Arabs, who turned
out to be a Sunday-school picnic. The gang scattered the picnickers and collected loot that included a hymnal
and a religious tract, but the Sunday-school teacher routed them. Afterward, Tom explained that the caravan
was enchanted, as in (Miguel de Cervantes's) Don Quixote. Though skeptical, Huck tries Tom's suggestion of
rubbing an old lamp to call up a genie but eventually concludes that magic lamps and genies are just another of
Tom's lies.
Chapter 4
Three or four months carry the narrative into winter. Huck attends school regularly, though he occasionally
plays hookey and gets whipped. At first he hates school, but comes to tolerate it. He even finds things to like
about the new ways of living with the Widow Douglas.
One day Huck spots ominously familiar bootprints in the snow near the widow's house. He flies off to Judge
Thatcher and tries to persuade him to take his entire fortune of $6,000, plus interest. The judge senses that
something is wrong, but Huck will not explain. He calms Huck by offering to buy his fortune for a
"consideration" of one dollar. Huck next visits Jim, who uses an ox's hairball to tell his fortune. Jim's reading
contains cryptic references to Huck's father and warns him to keep away from water.
Huck feels troubled that night as he goes up to bed. He enters his room and finds his father sitting on a chair.
Chapter 5
Seeing his father scares Huck momentarily. A history of beatings has made Huck afraid of him, but once he sees
how bedraggled his father is, his fears melt away. Pap immediately turns on Huck, berating him for wearing
starchy clothes and being educated. He makes Huck read aloud, then smacks the book away and demands that
Huck quit school. In town for two days, Pap has come from downriver, where he heard about Huck's money; he
knows that Judge Thatcher controls the money and wants Huck to get it for him. Claiming that he does not
really have any money, Huck challenges Pap to ask Thatcher for himself. The next day Pap calls on Thatcher
while he is drunk and tries bullyragging him.
Judge Thatcher and the Widow Douglas go to court to have one of them appointed Huck's legal guardian, but a
new judge rules in Pap's favor. Pap celebrates by getting drunk and lands in jail for a week. The new judge tries
to reform Pap by taking him into his own home, where he and his wife clean him up and give him new clothes
and a nice room. Pap repays them by sneaking out at night, swapping his new coat for booze, then returning to
get drunk. He wrecks the room, crawls out the window, breaks his arm in two places, and nearly freezes in the
Chapter 6
After recovering, Pap goes to court seeking control of Huck's money. He continues to torment Huck for staying
in school, occasionally beating him. Huck now wants to stay in school to spite his father. Huck gets small
amounts of money from the judge to give to Pap, who repeatedly gets drunk and lands in jail.
Pap finally spirits Huck away to a spot three miles upriver, on the Illinois side. He puts Huck in a secluded old
log cabin in the woods, where they live off fish and game. When the widow sends a man to get Huck, Pap
chases him off with his gun. Pap keeps a close eye on Huck, locking him in the cabin when he goes out. Apart
from Pap's occasional thrashings, Huck mostly enjoys this life. He can cuss, smoke, and fish, and he does not
have to go to school. After two months, his clothes are rags, and he cannot imagine returning to the widow.
Huck's pleasure wanes as Pap grows more abusive. As his father spends longer periods away, Huck begins
planning his escape. He finds an old saw blade and starts cutting through a log at the rear of the cabin, hiding
his work with a blanket when he hears Pap coming.
One day Pap returns to the cabin in an especially foul mood. His lawsuit against the judge is going poorly and
there is talk of another trial to get Huck away from him and make the widow his guardian. This news alarms
Huck. He does not want to return to the widow's any more than he wants to stay with Pap. He plans to tramp
overland to get away. That night Pap gets drunker than usual and rages about how the government keeps him
from having his rights and even allows black men to vote. He drinks until he has delirium tremens, rages
incoherently through the night, and chases Huck with a knife, calling him the "Angel of Death." To protect
himself, Huck sits in a corner with the gun.
Chapter 7
The next morning, Pap awakens Huck, demanding to know why he has the gun. Huck explains that someone
tried to break into the cabin during the night. Satisfied by the explanation, Pap sends Huck out to check
fishlines. It is now June, and the river is rising rapidly. A big canoe drifts by, and Huck seizes it. This
unexpected booty gives him a new idea. He hides the canoe and now plans to go 50 miles downriver and find a
permanent place to camp. He begins figuring out how to keep both Pap and the Widow Douglas from coming
after him.
Later that day, Huck and Pap capture a big piece of drifting raft that Pap later tows across the river to sell. Huck
launches his escape plans by cutting the rest of the way through the log wall and getting out of the cabin. He
packs all the cabin's supplies into the canoe and then covers his tracks and the hole he cut in the wall. To make
people think that he has been killed, he smashes the cabin door with an ax and spreads a wild pig's blood
around inside. To make it appear that his body has been dumped in the river, he drags a sack full of rocks from
the cabin to the shore. He then leaves a trail of cornmeal from the cabin to a nearby pond so it will appear that
his killers escaped inland. He even pulls out some of his own hair and sticks it to the ax with pig blood. Finally,
he goes a short distance down the river in the canoe and waits for the moon to rise. He falls asleep in the
canoe, but awakens when he hears Pap rowing toward him. After Pap passes him, Huck heads downriver.
Eventually, he reaches the Illinois side of uninhabited Jackson's Island, where he goes ashore and sleeps in the
Chapter 8
The next morning Huck awakens to booming noises and sees a crowded ferryboat cruising by the island. The
boat is firing a cannon across the water, evidently to bring Huck's drowned body to the surface. Huck clearly
sees the people aboard, who include Pap, Judge Thatcher, Becky Thatcher, Joe Harper, Tom Sawyer, Aunt Polly,
Sid Sawyer, and Mary (Sawyer). The boat rounds the island, leaving Huck confident that no one else will come
looking for him.
After three days on the island, Huck stumbles upon fresh campfire ashes. Frightened, he climbs a tree to spy
around and nervously stays aloft for hours. He crosses to Illinois to be safe, but the sounds of horses and
human voices scare him back to the island. Now determined to learn who built the fire, he scouts around until
he finds Miss Watson's slave Jim. Huck is immensely relieved, but Jim is terrified because he thinks Huck must
be a ghost. After Huck persuades him otherwise, Huck learns that Jim has been on the island as long as he has.
Huck explains how he escaped from his father. Before Jim admits that he has run off, he gets Huck to promise
not to tell on him. Jim then explains that he overheard Miss Watson talking about selling him to someone in
New Orleans for $800. That possibility was enough to make him leave immediately. He sneaked aboard a big
commercial raft with the intention of going down the river some distance, but slipped off to avoid detection and
swam to the island. In a long conversation, Jim impresses Huck with his vast knowledge of folk superstitions.
Chapter 9
Huck shows Jim a rugged ridge in the center of the island in which they find a spacious cave. At Jim's
insistence, they move all their gear into the cave. Huck thinks that the cave's location is inconvenient, but Jim
argues that it would provide both a good hiding place and protection against the rain he thinks is coming. Soon
after they settle in, a heavy storm begins.
Over the next 10 or 12 days, the river rises rapidly, inundating much of the island. The floodwater brings with it
more debris, which Huck and Jim venture out at night to explore. One night they catch a section of wellconstructed lumber raft. Another night, they find a two-story frame house (the "House of Death") floating down
the river that they investigate at daybreak. In an upstairs room they discover the naked body of a man shot in
the back, but Jim will not let Huck look at the man's face. After they load their canoe with clothes, utensils, and
other supplies they find in this floating house they return to the island.
Chapter 10
Huck asks about the dead man, but Jim refuses to discuss him because it would be bad luck (Jim finally
identifies the dead man in the last chapter). When they rummage through clothes taken from the house, they
find eight dollars sewn inside a coat. Huck reminds Jim of his recent prediction that they would encounter bad
luck because Huck had handled a snakeskin two days earlier. Jim insists that the bad luck is still coming.
Three days later Huck kills a rattlesnake in the cave and puts its body on Jim's bedding. That night another
rattler bites Jim as he goes to bed. Huck kills the snake and follows Jim's instructions for disposing of it but is
careful not to tell him he was responsible for the first snake. The snakebite keeps Jim laid up for four days.
Huck ponders on the dangers of defying superstition and recalls the disastrous example of Hank Bunker.
As days pass, the river falls. Jim and Huck catch a catfish more than six feet long. Feeling restless, Huck
proposes slipping into town to learn the news. Jim approves and suggests that Huck use a dress they found in
the house to disguise himself as a girl to avoid recognition. Huck paddles the canoe up the Illinois shore,
crosses the river near the ferry landing, and drifts down the opposite side before going ashore. He sees a light
in a shanty that had long been unoccupied before he left town. Through its window he sees a woman he does
not know.
Chapter 11
When the woman invites Huck in, he introduces himself as Sarah Williams from Hookerville. The woman chats
idly and drifts to the subject of Huck's "murder." She tells Huck that many people think the murderer is Pap
Finn, while others think it is the runaway slave Jim. There are rewards out for both. Pap left town with some
toughs shortly after Huck was presumed killed and many people think that he killed his son so he could get at
Huck's money without a lawsuit.
The woman also tells Huck that she has seen smoke rise from Jackson's Island and that her husband is going
there that very night to hunt for Jim. Huck nervously picks up a needle and tries to thread it. The woman asks
him his name again. This time he says "Mary Williams." She notices the contradiction and tries several tricks
that prove Huck is a boy. Huck invents a new story about having been apprenticed to a mean farmer when his
parents died. He says that his name is really George Peters and that he has run away to find his uncle Abner
Moore in Goshen. As the woman prepares food for Huck and sends him off, she identifies herself as Mrs. Judith
Huck rushes back to the island, stops at its north end to build a fire as a diversion, then continues to the camp.
He awakens Jim and tells him. "They're after us!" Without a word, Jim helps pack everything onto the raft, and
he and Huck leave the island.
Chapter 12
After a long night drifting downriver, Huck and Jim establish a routine of hiding by day and rafting by night.
They tie up among cottonwood trees on an Illinois sandbar and camouflage the raft. The next evening, Jim pulls
up some of the raft's planks and builds a wigwam shelter elevated above the main deck.
The second night they run between seven and eight hours in a current that Huck estimates at over four miles an
hour. They talk and fish and occasionally swim to keep themselves awake. On the fifth uneventful night, they
pass Saint Louis. Occasionally, Huck slips ashore to buy or borrow food. After discussing the morality of
"borrowing," Huck and Jim decide that it would be better if they were to quit borrowing, so they resolve to quit
taking crabapples and persimmons.
Five nights south of St. Louis, a lightning storm comes up. The raft drifts into a wrecked steamboat precariously
perched on rocks. Huck wants to board it to explore, but Jim wants to leave well enough alone and ignore it.
Huck prevails. They fasten the raft to the steamboat's starboard derrick and go aboard. Huck cautiously works
his way toward the captain's cabin on the texas deck.
Huck hears voices in a cabin and sees two men—Jake Packard and Bill—who have tied up a third, Jim Turner.
The first two men are arguing about killing Turner. They finally agree to go ashore and wait for the steamboat
to break up, so that Turner will be drowned. Huck rushes back to Jim and proposes they cut the murderers' skiff
loose so the sheriff can catch them. Jim tells Huck that their raft has broken loose. Now they are marooned on
the doomed steamboat.
Chapter 13
As Huck recovers from his initial shock, he realizes that he and Jim must now find the murderers' skiff in order
to save themselves. Just as they locate it, the murderers appear and board it themselves. Before these men
shove off, however, they remember that they have failed to take Turner's share of loot from him. They go back
to get it, allowing Huck and Jim to escape on their skiff.
As Huck and Jim search for their raft, Huck worries about the men aboard the doomed steamboat. He dislikes
the idea of leaving even murderers in such a fix—especially since he might one day be a murderer himself. He
tells Jim to land near the next light they see, so he can go ashore and find someone to rescue the murderers.
The storm worsens, but Huck and Jim find their raft. They also see a light. Huck rows the skiff ashore, as Jim
takes the raft farther downstream. Huck boards a steam ferry and awakens its watchman. The ferryboatman
turns out to be the boat's owner. Huck tearfully tells him a story about his family and a Miss Hooker being
stranded on the wrecked steamboat—which the startled ferryboatman identifies as the Walter Scott. The man
happens to mention a rich local person named Jim Hornback. He is concerned about who will pay for the rescue
effort. When Huck mentions that Hornback is the uncle of the fictitious Miss Hooker, the ferryboatman jumps to
begin organizing his rescue effort.
Before the ferryboat reaches the Walter Scott, the steamboat breaks up and washes downstream. Huck rows his
skiff around the drifting wreck and calls out, but no one answers. Eventually, he rejoins Jim farther down the
river. They go to an island, hide the raft, sink the skiff and sleep soundly.
Chapter 14
The next morning, Huck and Jim sort out the goods from the steamboat that the murderers left in the skiff and
find boots, blankets, books, clothes, cigars, and other things. After they rest, Huck crows about their adventure
aboard the steamboat. Jim, however, says he does not want any more adventures, explaining that when he
discovered the raft was missing, he thought that he would either die or be sold down the river. Huck concedes
that Jim is right and has "an uncommon level head for a nigger."
As Huck reads to Jim, they take up the subject of kings and royalty. They debate whether King Solomon was
truly a wise man and then discuss King Louis XVI and his son the dauphin. Finally, they argue about why some
people speak French. Though Jim applies superior logic in each argument, Huck fails to see that he has been
bested and concludes that "you can't learn a nigger to argue."
Chapter 15
Huck and Jim plan to go as far as Cairo, Illinois, where they will sell the raft and take a steamboat up the Ohio
River to the free states. They calculate that three more nights will get them to Cairo. On the second night,
however, heavy fog forces them to tie up on a sandbar. Huck takes the canoe out to find something to fasten
the raft to. The swift current separates him from the raft; then he and Jim spend the night trying to find each
other in the fog. The situation worsens when they drift in among small islands and swirling currents. Both of
them fall asleep from exhaustion.
When Huck awakens under a clear night sky hours later, he finds the raft. Jim is worn out and asleep, and the
deck is littered with dirt and leaves. Huck boards the raft and lies down, as if he has been sleeping. When Jim
awakens, he is immensely relieved to find Huck alive and safe, but Huck tries to convince him that he has
merely dreamt the night's misadventures. As Jim tries to explain the meaning of each detail in his dream, he
realizes he has been fooled when Huck asks him to explain what the litter strewn on the raft means. Jim then
shames Huck by contrasting his own concern for Huck's safety with Huck's effort to make a fool of him, and
goes to the wigwam without a further word.
After spending 15 minutes preparing to "humble myself before a nigger," Huck finally does it, then admits that
he has not been sorry since then. He plays no more tricks on Jim.
Chapter 16
After sleeping through the day, Huck and Jim set out again and find themselves behind a huge raft with about
30 men in its crew. They discuss the difficult problem of finding the tiny village of Cairo.
(Some editions of Huckleberry Finn insert the "Raft Chapter" here.)
Huck and Jim continue watching for Cairo. As Jim's prospects of being truly free grow, Huck feels guilty about
helping him to escape. It grieves him to think that he is stealing from Jim's owner, Miss Watson. Jim talks
enthusiastically about saving money to buy the freedom of his wife and children, adding that if he cannot buy
his children, he will find an abolitionist to steal them. Huck is so shocked by Jim's plans that he decides to
report Jim as a runaway.
Huck takes the canoe to scout out where they are. As he paddles off, Jim calls after him, thanking him for being
such a good friend. Two slave hunters then approach him in a skiff. Huck now has his chance to turn Jim in but
cannot bring himself to do it. Instead, he concocts a story that makes the slave hunters think that he has
relatives with smallpox aboard the raft. The men feel guilty about not helping Huck, so each gives him a $20
gold piece. Jim, who has been hiding underwater, is more grateful than ever to Huck.
As Huck and Jim drift downriver, their faith in finding Cairo erodes. One morning, they notice two channels in
the river. One is the unclouded water of the Ohio; the other, the muddy water of the Mississippi. There is now
no doubt; they have passed Cairo. They guess that they missed the town in the fog a few nights earlier and
blame their bad luck on the snakeskin that Huck handled on Jackson's Island. They now plan to return upriver in
the canoe; however, they awaken that night to find that their canoe is missing. They decide to continue
downriver instead until they can buy another canoe in which to return.
After dark, they shove off again on their raft. The night is particularly dark. A steamboat coming up the river
ignores their signal lantern and plows into them. Jim dives off one side of the raft, Huck off the other. After
swimming under the boat's paddle-wheel, Huck surfaces and calls out for Jim, but gets no reply. He grabs hold
of a plank and drifts with the current to the left bank and goes ashore. About a quarter of a mile inland, he
stumbles upon a big log house. When barking dogs corner him, he freezes.
Chapter 17
A voice calling from a window orders Huck to identify himself. He gives his name as "George Jackson" and says
that he fell off the steamboat. The voice asks if he knows the Shepherdsons, then orders him to enter the house
slowly. Inside, Huck finds three tall men pointing guns at him. There are also an old woman and two young
women. As he soon learns, he is in the home of the Grangerfords.
The older man, Colonel Grangerford, is satisfied that Huck is not a threat, and the old woman instructs her slave
Betsy to fetch Huck food. The youngest son, Buck Grangerford, takes Huck to his room for dry clothes. As Huck
eats, he answers questions and invents a biography. He claims he has come from southern Arkansas. After his
sister Mary Ann ran off to marry, his family disintegrated until only he remained. He was coming up the river as
a deck passenger when he fell off the steamboat. The Grangerfords invite Huck to stay indefinitely. When Huck
awakens the next morning, he finds that he has forgotten his new name. He challenges Buck to spell it for him,
then writes it down so he can remember it.
Everything about the Grangerford house impresses Huck. It is full of touches usually found only in houses in
towns, such as brass doorknobs and a parlor without a bed. He describes its decor and sees such books as John
Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, Henry Clay's speeches, and Dr. (John) Gunn's Family Medicine. He also describes
the melancholy artwork and poetry of the family's deceased daughter, Emmeline Grangerford.
Chapter 18
Huck takes quickly to the Grangerfords, who have many kinfolk living in the region. Another big aristocratic
family, the Shepherdsons, also live nearby. One day as Huck and Buck hunt in the woods, a rider whom Buck
recognizes as Harney Shepherdson comes along. They duck into the brush. Buck shoots at Harney, knocking his
hat off. Harney rides up and aims his rifle at Buck but leaves without firing. Later, Buck tells Huck about the
long-standing feud between the Grangerfords and the Shepherdsons.
The following Sunday the Grangerfords and the Shepherdsons attend the same church. All the men carry guns,
and Huck feels the tension. Afterward, Sophia Grangerford has Huck go back to fetch a Testament she forgot.
Inside her Testament, he finds a note: "Half-past two." It means nothing to him but thrills Sophia.
Later that day, the slave Jack leads Huck to a swamp on the pretext of showing him water moccasins. Jack slips
away, leaving Huck to find Jim, who has been hiding there since the raft was smashed. Jim explains that he
followed Huck ashore that night, keeping silent for fear of capture. Since then, he has been repairing and
restocking the raft, which is not as badly damaged as Huck had thought.
The next day, Huck awakens at the Grangerfords' to find almost everyone gone. Jack reports that Sophia has
run off with Harney Shepherdson and that the Grangerford men are trying to catch them as the women round
up relatives. Huck hurries to the timber yard by the steamboat landing, where he sees Buck and his cousin Joe
shooting at horsemen. Huck climbs a tree to watch. When Buck and Joe move closer to his tree, Huck shouts to
them. Buck says that the Shepherdsons have killed his father and brothers in an ambush. Two or three
Shepherdsons are also dead. Sophia and Harney have escaped across the river.
The Shepherdsons surprise Buck and Joe by attacking from behind, on foot. The boys run to the river. The
Shepherdsons shoot them as they try to swim away. These sights are so horrifying to Huck that he later dreams
about the awful experience. When darkness falls, Huck climbs out of the tree, pulls the boys' bodies ashore,
then rushes back to the swamp. He and Jim board their raft and leave immediately.
Chapter 19
Huck and Jim continue their voyage down the river, enjoying two or three of the most idyllic days of their
journey. By day, they hide in the cottonwood; by night, they drift on the raft. One morning, Huck finds a canoe
and paddles up a creek to hunt for berries. Two ragged men tear along a path toward him, begging for help to
escape their pursuers. Huck has them go upstream first, so they can wade down the creek to throw the dogs off
their scent. He then takes the men back to the raft.
The two men are strangers to each other. Each explains the various scams he specializes in. The younger man
suggests they "double-team it together." After a long silence, the younger man grows somber and begins
moaning about being "degraded." He alludes to the "secret of his birth" and suddenly blurts out: "By rights I am
a Duke!" He explains that he is the rightful Duke of Bridgewater and asks to be treated with the respect due his
rank. Huck and Jim agree to wait on him.
After dinner, the older man makes an announcement of his own. He is the "late dauphin," the son of Louis XVI
and "Marry Antonette." This makes him "Looy the Seventeen," the "rightful king of France." Jim and Huck agree
to serve him as well. After a frosty moment, the men agree to be friends. Though Huck knows that both men
are frauds, he is content to avert trouble and says nothing.
Chapter 20
The King and the Duke suspect that Jim is a runaway slave, but Huck protests that no runaway slave would be
going south. He also invents another biography for himself, claiming to be from Missouri's Pike County. When
hard times hit, he, his father, younger brother Ike, and Jim began rafting downriver in order to live with his
Uncle Ben, near New Orleans. A steamboat hit their raft, drowning his father and Ike. He and Jim are continuing
the journey, traveling by night to avoid troublesome encounters with people by day.
The King and Duke appropriate the wigwam as their own sleeping quarters, leaving Jim and Huck to sleep in the
rain. As he often does, Jim stands Huck's watch on top of his own. The next morning, the King and Duke begin
scheming. The Duke has a carpetbag filled with handbills, mostly for dramatic productions. He persuades the
King to perform with him in scenes from Romeo and Juliet and Richard III in the towns they will visit.
Eventually they land the raft below a town called Pokeville and go ashore. Most townspeople are at a religious
camp meeting outside of town. The Duke takes over an untended print shop as Huck and the King go the camp
meeting, where they join a lively group. The King gets up and tearfully tells the crowd that he was a pirate for
30 years on the Indian Ocean, but now he wants to devote the rest of his life to working as a missionary among
the pirates. The enthusiastic crowd has him pass the hat. He collects $87.75 and also finds a jug of whiskey as
he leaves.
Meanwhile, the Duke has been busy in the print shop, where he has taken in $9.50 doing small jobs and selling
newspaper subscriptions. He has also printed handbills advertising a $200 reward for a runaway slave whose
description matches Jim's. The bills give the address as "St. Jacques Plantation," below New Orleans. The Duke
explains that they can now run the raft by day. If anyone challenges Jim's presence, they can simply show a
handbill and say they are going south to collect the reward. In order to make this scheme work, however, they
will have to tie Jim up when anyone approaches and when they leave him alone on the raft.
Early the next morning, Jim tells Huck that he has had his fill of kings.
Chapter 21
As the raft continues downstream, the Duke and King rehearse the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet and
the sword fight from Richard III. The Duke also teaches the King to recite Hamlet's soliloquy, giving him a
version reconstructed from memory. Huck is impressed by the King's recitation. During a stopover at a village,
the Duke has handbills printed to announce the coming production.
Two or three days later, they stop above another town (Bricksville), which appears promising because a circus
is performing there that very day. The Duke hires the courthouse and posts bills for their "Shaksperean
Revival," featuring "David Garrick, the Younger" and "Edmund Kean, the Elder." As Huck idles about the town,
he comments on its tumble-down condition and its loafers such as Ben Thompson. A rowdy drunk named Boggs
rides into town yelling threats aimed mostly at a man named Colonel Sherburn, who warns him to stop his
abuse after one o'clock. When that hour arrives, Sherburn shoots Boggs and the crowd cries for a lynch party.
Chapter 22
After collecting rope, a mob swarms to Sherburn's house, where they knock down the fence. Sherburn steps out
on the roof over his porch. Holding a double-barreled gun, he stares the crowd into uncomfortable silence. He
then dresses them down for their cowardice, calling Buck Harkness, their leader, a "half a man." Huck leaves as
the mob disperses, then sneaks into the circus, where he gushes over every wonder he sees.
That night the King and Duke stage their "Shaksperean Revival" to 12 unappreciative people. The only person
who does not leave before it ends is a boy who has fallen asleep. The angry Duke declares that what these
"Arkansaw lunkheads" really want is "low comedy." The next day, he makes up new handbills advertising "The
King's Camelopard or The Royal Nonesuch … Ladies and Children Not Admitted."
Chapter 23
The King and Duke rig a stage at the courthouse, which they pack that night. The Duke introduces the "Royal
Nonesuch" with a provocative speech. When the curtain rises, the King comes out on all fours. Naked and
painted with multicolored stripes, he delights the crowd by prancing about wildly. After two encores, the Duke
ends the show. The audience rises angrily, but one man persuades the others to give the rest of the town a
chance to be taken in by the frauds to spare those present from becoming laughingstocks.
The second performance goes as on the first night. Afterward, the King and Duke have Jim and Huck move the
raft to a point below the town. On the third night, Huck recognizes men who attended the previous
performances. The crowd is armed with rotten fruit and eggs, as well as dead cats. Once the house is packed,
Huck and the Duke slip out, run to the raft and take off downstream. Huck is concerned about leaving the King
behind but is surprised to find him already aboard the raft. The con men find that their three-night take adds up
to $465.
After the King and Duke are asleep, Jim and Huck discuss what rapscallions kings are. Huck talks about kings
such as Henry VIII. Jim again stands Huck's watch during the night. Toward daybreak, Huck overhears Jim
moaning about his wife and children and gets him to talk a little about them. Jim relates a painful story about a
time when he smacked his daughter 'Lizabeth for disobeying him before he realized that scarlet fever had left
her deaf and dumb.
Chapter 24
The next day, the King and Duke scout new villages to exploit. When Jim asks for some relief from being tied up
all day, the Duke dresses him up as King Lear, paints him blue and posts a sign on the raft saying that he is a
"sick Arab," telling Jim to howl and carry on if anyone approaches.
The rascals want to try their "Royal Nonesuch" show again but figure that they are not far enough from the last
place where they performed it for it to be safe. The Duke goes off to inspect a village, while Huck stays with the
King to check out another village downriver. After Huck and the King put on recently bought store clothes, the
improvement in the King's appearance astounds Huck. The King suggests boarding a steamboat that is loading
freight nearby, so they can arrive in the next village in style. As they canoe downriver, they see a "young
country jake" (Tim Collins), whom the King offers a ride to the steamboat. He introduces himself as the
Reverend Elexander Blodgett and calls Huck "Adolphus," as if he were a servant. The man initially takes the
King for a Mr. Wilks, explaining that someone named Peter Wilks in the next town has just died, while he was
expecting his English brothers to arrive. The King pumps the man for every detail about Wilks, his family and
After the man boards the steamboat, Huck and the King return for the Duke. The King tells the Duke everything
he has learned about the Wilkses. His plan is to impersonate Harvey Wilks and have the Duke impersonate
Harvey's deaf and dumb younger brother, William Wilks. They hail a big steamboat (the Susan Powell), which
they ride to the village, where they are immediately received as Peter Wilks's brothers.
Chapter 25
Most of the town turns out to greet the impostors and lead them to Wilks's house, where Peter Wilks's nieces,
Mary Jane, Susan, and Joanna Wilks, greet their supposed uncles. The King and Duke pay sobbing tribute over
the coffin, disgusting Huck with their exaggerated grief. The King impresses everyone by rattling off the names
of all of Peter Wilks's special friends.
Mary Jane presents a letter from her deceased uncle that the King reads. Wilks has left his house and $3,000 in
gold to his nieces and has left his successful tanyard, other houses and land, and $3,000 in gold to his brothers
Harvey and William. The letter tells where the gold is hidden in the basement. Huck accompanies the King and
Duke downstairs to find it. When the impostors count the gold, they find that it is $415 short of $6,000. To
avoid suspicion of dishonesty, the Duke suggests they make up the "deffisit" by contributing their own money.
He then suggests giving all the money to the girls—an idea that wins everyone's approval upstairs.
The King prattles on, upsetting the Duke with talk about the funeral "orgies." Dr. Robinson arrives and quickly
denounces the scoundrels as frauds, calling the King's English accent the worst he has ever heard. He appeals
to the girls to shun the frauds, but Mary Jane hands the King the bag of gold and asks him to invest the money
for them and not to bother with a receipt.
Chapter 26
That night, the Wilks girls put on a big dinner at which Huck acts as the King's servant. Afterward, he eats in
the kitchen with Joanna, who asks him about England. Skeptical of Huck's unlikely answers, Joanna asks him to
swear he is telling the truth. Mary Jane and Susan arrive at this moment and take her to task for not treating
Huck properly as a guest. The sisters' sensitivity and Joanna's beautiful apology make Huck feel so bad about
his role in the King and Duke's swindle that he decides to steal the girls' gold back from the impostors.
Huck searches the Duke's and King's rooms, and he hides in the King's room when the scoundrels arrive. He
then hears the Duke say that he wants to take the money that he and the King already have and leave
immediately. The King insists on staying so they can auction off Wilks's properties. The Duke is concerned about
Dr. Robinson, but the King laughs him off. Huck sees the King hide the money in his bed and grabs it after the
men leave the room.
Chapter 27
After waiting a bit, Huck takes the gold downstairs. He wants to hide it outside the house, but the doors are
locked. When he hears someone else coming, he stuffs the money inside Wilks's coffin and hides as Mary Jane
enters the parlor. He agonizes over leaving the money in the coffin, but cannot retrieve it without being seen.
The next morning, Huck finds the parlor shut. He watches people carefully to detect whether anything unusual
has happened. In the afternoon, as the Reverend Hobson conducts the funeral in the parlor, Huck is not sure if
the gold is still in the coffin.
After Wilks is buried, the King says that he must return to his congregation in England. Saying that he is
anxious to settle the estate as soon as possible and take the girls back to England, he immediately puts Wilks's
property up for auction. The next day everyone is shocked to learn that the King has already sold the family
slaves, sending the two boys upriver and their mother downriver. On the morning of the auction, the King and
Duke awaken Huck and grill him about the missing gold, but Huck shifts suspicion onto the slaves who have just
been sent away.
Chapter 28
Later that morning, Huck sees Mary Jane in her room crying about the slave family being separated.
Momentarily forgetting himself, he assures her that the slaves will soon be reunited. He now feels compelled to
tell her the whole truth. After making Mary Jane promise to leave town for a few days, he confesses that her
supposed "uncles" are frauds. He adds that prematurely exposing the frauds could mean trouble for someone
whom he cannot name.
Huck finally settles on a plan for Mary Jane to spend just one day with the Lothrop family outside of town—long
enough for him to make his getaway. He tells her that if proof that the King and Duke are frauds becomes
necessary, she can write to Bricksville and mention the "Royal Nonesuch." He insists that she leave
immediately, to avoid accidentally betraying that she knows something is wrong. He also gives her a slip of
paper telling her where he hid the money. After Mary Jane leaves, Huck tells Susan and Joanna that Mary Jane
has gone across the river to visit Hanner Proctor.
At the auction that same day, virtually all the Wilks property is sold off. Later that day, a steamboat lands and
townspeople are delighted that two more men claiming to be Harvey and William Wilks have arrived.
Chapter 29
The arrival of more claimants excites the town, but does not faze the King and Duke. The distinguished-looking
newcomer who calls himself Harvey Wilks says that since their luggage went ashore at the wrong town, he and
his brother cannot prove who they are. They will therefore retire to a hotel to await their luggage, which
contains their proof. The King jokes about them, but several people do not laugh, including Dr. Robinson and
Levi Bell, newly returned to town. Another man (Hines) steps forward and says he saw the King and Huck in a
canoe upriver the morning of the day they came to town.
Robinson proposes taking Huck, the King, and the Duke to the hotel to confront them and the newcomers
together. He also demands that the townspeople take charge of Wilks's gold until his true brothers are
identified; this forces the King to reveal that the gold is missing. The resulting investigation at the hotel lasts
over an hour. Huck thinks it should be obvious to anyone that the King is lying and that his freshly arrived
counterpart is telling the truth. When Huck testifies about life in England, Robinson merely laughs and tells him
he is not much of a liar.
Bell has the King and Duke write something down, then surprises them by comparing their handwriting with
letters written by the real Harvey and William Wilks. This test appears to prove them impostors; however, the
new "Harvey" fails as well. He claims that William transcribes all his letters for him, but his brother cannot write
anything with his arm in a cast. At the least, Bell concludes, the test proves the King and the Duke not to be
Harvey and William Wilks. The King tries to talk his way out of this by suggesting that the Duke deliberately
altered his own handwriting as a joke.
The man that Huck thinks is the real Harvey asks if anyone there helped prepare Peter's body for burial. Ab
Turner and another man present themselves. The man then asks the King what was tattooed on Peter's chest.
The King calmly answers, a "small blue arrow." The other Harvey says the tattoo was the letters "P-B-W";
however, neither Turner nor the other man remembers seeing any mark on Peter's chest. A voice rises
suggesting that all four claimants be lynched, but Bell proposes opening Peter Wilks's grave to examine his
body. Dr. Robinson makes sure that Huck and the four claimants are kept under restraint.
As the crowd marches to the cemetery, the sky darkens ominously. Huck now regrets sending Mary Jane out of
town, fearing that he is about to be hanged. Just as the lid to Wilks's coffin is removed, a flash of lightning
reveals the bag of gold. The excited mob surges forward, allowing Huck to escape. He runs to the river, grabs a
canoe, and paddles to the raft. Thinking himself finally free of the scoundrels, he calls to Jim to set the raft
loose. Just as they start to drift off, however, the King and Duke row up to the raft. Huck almost cries.
Chapter 30
When the King and Duke board the raft, the King turns on Huck for trying to run out on them. Huck protests
that he thought that the King and Duke must be dead, so he was merely trying to save his life. The Duke makes
the King leave Huck alone, reminding him that he had not looked out for anyone but himself. He then blames
the King for doing everything wrong from the start—except for his remark about the blue-arrow tattoo, which
saved their lives.
The realization that they have not only lost their chance at the Wilks fortune, but their "Royal Nonesuch"
money, causes the King and Duke to argue over who is responsible for the disaster. Each accuses the other of
having hidden the money in the coffin with the idea of coming back later to dig it up for himself. The argument
ends when the Duke throttles the King, forcing him to confess that he stole the money. Eventually, both get
drunk and become friends again. Once they are asleep, Huck tells Jim what has happened.
Chapter 31
The raft drifts south for "days and days" without stopping at any settlements. When the King and Duke feel safe
again they start working towns, but everything they try fails: temperance lecturing, a dancing school, elocution
lectures, "missionarying," "mesmerizering," doctoring, telling fortunes, and other things. Their money runs out
and they grow morose and talk secretly with each other.
Eventually, the band lands the raft about two miles below a town named Pikesville. The King goes into town
alone, leaving instructions for the Duke and Huck to follow at noon if he does not return. By now, Huck is
determined to escape the con men at the first opportunity. At noon, he and the Duke go into town and find the
King drunk in a saloon. As the Duke and King argue, Huck runs back to the raft, but Jim has disappeared. Huck
returns to the road and finds a boy who tells him that a runaway slave fitting Jim's description has been caught
and taken to the farm of Silas Phelps, two miles farther downstream. He explains that an "old fellow" with a
handbill offering a reward for the slave has sold the runaway for $40.
Huck's guilt over helping a slave escape resurfaces. He is ashamed of his sinfulness, but cannot bring himself to
pray. Instead, he writes a letter to Miss Watson, telling her where Jim is. After he completes the letter, he feels
washed clean of sin for the first time but trembles to think how close he has come to consigning himself to hell.
Second thoughts creep in, however. He recalls all the ways in which Jim has become a friend. Finally, he
decides, "All right, then, I'll go to hell" and tears up the letter. He is now determined to win back Jim's freedom.
Huck shifts the raft to an island (Spanish Island), where he spends the night. The next day he puts on his storebought clothes and paddles the canoe ashore. When he reaches the town, the first person he sees is the Duke,
who is pasting up handbills for a new "Royal Nonesuch" performance. Huck invents a story to account for his
absence the day before and tells the Duke that the raft has disappeared. The Duke reveals that the King has
sold Jim for $40—money that he quickly blew on whiskey and gambling.
When the Duke accuses Huck of trying to give them the shake, Huck points out that it would not make sense for
him to leave without his slave, and blubbers about losing the only property he owns. Taking pity on Huck, the
Duke offers to tell him where Jim is—provided that he not give away the secret of their "Royal Nonesuch." The
Duke starts to tell the truth, but abruptly switches to a lie, telling Huck that a man named Abram G. Foster—40
miles inland—has Jim, and he insists that Huck start walking immediately. Huck walks about a mile, then
doubles back and heads for the Phelps farm.
Chapter 32
Huck arrives at the Phelps farm on a hot, quiet afternoon. As he approaches the house, barking hounds
surround him. A slave woman named Lize chases the dogs away; then a white woman and several children
come out to greet him. The woman puzzles Huck by acting as if she expects him. She tells her children that he
is their cousin Tom and insists that he call her "Aunt Sally." Not knowing which direction she thinks he has come
from, Huck invents a noncommittal story about his steamboat's blowing out a cylinder-head, and adds that he
has hidden his luggage near the town.
Aunt Sally's detailed questions make Huck almost ready to give up his unintentional masquerade. However, she
sees her husband coming home and tells Huck to hide so they can play a joke on him. When Mr. Phelps comes
in, Aunt Sally springs Huck on him and asks who he thinks it is. The man has no idea, so she proclaims: "It's
Tom Sawyer!" Immensely relieved, Huck confidently answers a flock of questions about "the Sawyer family."
The sound of a steamboat whistle reminds him that the real Tom Sawyer may arrive soon, so he insists on
returning to town alone to fetch his luggage, hoping to find Tom before he reaches the Phelpses.
Chapter 33
Huck takes the Phelpses' wagon to town and meets Tom along the road. After convincing his friend that he is
not a ghost, Huck fills him in on his situation. Tom proposes that Huck return to the house alone with his
luggage and that he arrive later. When Huck adds that he plans to free Jim from captivity, Tom eagerly offers to
help. It shocks Huck that the respectable Tom would stoop to the level of a "nigger stealer." Huck gets back to
the house sooner than he should, but innocent old Uncle Silas suspects nothing.
Later, Tom appears at the door and asks for Mr. Archibald Nichols, a neighbor. When Aunt Sally invites Tom in,
he introduces himself as William Thompson. He prattles on about where he is from, then stuns Aunt Sally by
suddenly kissing her on the mouth. Eventually, he identifies himself as his own brother, Sid Sawyer, explaining
that he begged to come along on this trip. (From this point through chapter 42, Huck goes by the name Tom,
and Tom goes by the name Sid.)
At supper, Huck learns that the townspeople are planning violence at the King and Duke's "Royal Nonesuch."
Jim has told Uncle Silas and a man named Burton all about their show. That night Huck and Tom slip out and go
to town. Huck wants to warn the rascals of the danger they are in, but as the boys reach town, they see the two
con men covered with tar and feathers and being carried out on rails. The sight sickens Huck.
Chapter 34
As the boys return home, Tom guesses that Jim is being kept prisoner in a cabin where he has observed a slave
(Nat) entering through a locked door with food. Tom proposes to Huck that they each devise a plan for freeing
Jim. Huck's plan is to steal the key to the cabin off Uncle Silas while he sleeps, then spring Jim free and break
for the raft, but Tom insists on something vastly more elaborate. At the farm, they examine the cabin from
outside and inspect the surrounding area.
The next morning, Huck and Tom accompany Nat when he takes food to Jim. They find Jim chained to his bed
inside the dark cabin. When Jim sees them, he cries aloud; however, Huck and Tom pretend that they have
heard nothing and convince Nat that he only imagines having heard Jim. Tom whispers to Jim not to let on that
he knows them and that they are going to get him free.
Chapter 35
Under Tom's direction the next day, the boys begin gathering supplies for Tom's elaborate escape plans. It soon
becomes clear that he wants to do everything in the most complicated and time-consuming manner possible.
For example, instead of having Jim free his leg chain from his bed by simply lifting up the bed to slip it off, he
wants Jim to saw the bed's leg off. All his ideas come from books he has read about famous escapes by people
such as "Baron Trenck … Casanova … Benvenuto Chelleeny [Cellini] … Henri IV" and others.
Chapter 36
That night Huck and Tom begin digging at Jim's cabin with case-knives. They work for hours until their hands
are blistered but barely make an impression. Tom reluctantly concedes that they should use real digging tools
and "let on it's case-knives." When they resume with picks and shovels, they make rapid progress. After they
quit, Tom's hands are so raw he cannot climb the lightning rod to their room. He follows Huck's suggestion to
come up the stairs, "and let on it's a lightning rod."
The next day Tom and Huck steal more supplies, such as tin plates, for Jim. That night they dig all the way into
Jim's cabin and gently awaken him. He is tearfully grateful and wants them to find a chisel to break his chain so
he can leave immediately. However, Tom explains his escape plan, assuring Jim that they will spring him loose
immediately if an emergency arises. Jim agrees to go along. During a long chat, the boys learn that the
Phelpses have been treating Jim very kindly.
The next morning the boys begin smuggling supplies to Jim on his food plate. They accompany the slave Nat to
the cabin. While they are there, dogs begin pouring into the cabin through the hole dug the previous night.
After chasing the dogs out and covering the openings, Tom persuades Nat that he has only imagined seeing the
dogs in the cabin.
Chapter 37
Huck and Tom smuggle implements to Jim for scribbling messages. Aunt Sally begins noticing things missing
from around the house, such as candles, a shirt, a sheet, a spoon and a candlestick. The spoon turns up in
Uncle Silas's pocket; then Tom and Huck confuse Aunt Sally by making it impossible for her to count her spoon
collection accurately. To add to her confusion, they replace the missing sheet, and then steal and replace it
repeatedly until she no longer pays attention to its absence. Finally, they shred the sheet to make a rope ladder
for Jim and smuggle as much of it to Jim as they can fit inside a pie that they bake in a bed-warming pan. They
also smuggle tin plates in to Jim. He scratches marks on them and throws them out his window.
Chapter 38
Tom insists that Jim scratch on the wall a coat of arms that he designs for him. He also wants Jim to inscribe
"mournful" messages on his wall. However, Tom is not satisfied with log walls, so he and Huck steal a big
grindstone from a nearby mill. Since they cannot handle the grindstone by themselves, Jim leaves his cabin to
help. Tom enlarges the hole in the ground in order to get the grindstone into the cabin.
Tom's next idea is to collect spiders, snakes, and rats for the cabin, but Jim draws the line at rattlesnakes.
Tom's final idea is for Jim to grow a flower in the corner of his cell watered by his tears. When Jim protests that
he does not cry enough to keep a flower alive, Tom promises to smuggle an onion to him help produce tears.
Chapter 39
The next morning the boys fill a wire trap with rats and hide it under Aunt Sally's bed. While they are off
catching spiders, Sally's children open the cage. Sally whips the boys, but they simply capture more rats. They
also add spiders, insects, and dozens of harmless snakes to the menagerie they are collecting for Jim. The
snakes escape from a bag in their room, and for some time afterward are found throughout the house, making
Aunt Sally a nervous wreck.
After three weeks of preparation, everything is ready for the escape, which Tom calls an "evasion." Both boys
and especially Jim are exhausted. Meanwhile, Silas Phelps has been writing to the nonexistent St. Jacques
plantation near New Orleans. Since no reply has come, he talks about advertising in St. Louis and New Orleans
newspapers to find Jim's owner. Huck's anxiousness to free Jim mounts.
Tom now wants to send anonymous letters to make sure that the actual escape does not go unnoticed. He has
Huck borrow the frock of a servant girl to wear while delivering a letter that warns of brewing trouble. Over the
next several nights, Tom posts ominous pictures on the Phelpses' door, causing Aunt Sally to grow increasingly
anxious. Finally, Tom writes a long letter warning that a cutthroat gang of abolitionists is planning to steal the
runaway slave the next night and spirit him away to Indian Territory.
Chapter 40
The next day, Huck and Tom relax by fishing and examining the raft. At home they find everyone in a sweat
over Tom's anonymous letter. Aunt Sally hustles the boys to their room, where they sleep until nearly midnight.
When they arise, Tom puts on a dress he has stolen from Aunt Sally in order to play the role of Jim's mother in
the escape. Tom sends Huck downstairs to get butter for their provisions. There, Huck bumps into Aunt Sally,
but manages to hide a slab of corn pone and the butter under his hat. Not satisfied with Huck's reasons for
being in the cellar, Aunt Sally takes him into the sitting room, where he finds 15 farmers armed with guns. As
she questions Huck in the hot room, streaks of butter begin oozing down his face, making Aunt Sally think Huck
has "brain fever." Relieved to find only butter under his hat, she sends him back to his room.
The moment Huck is upstairs, he and Tom go out the window and head for Jim's cabin. Tom is pleased about
the armed men in the house. After he and Huck enter the cabin, armed men pour inside. Nevertheless, Tom,
Huck and Jim quietly slip out through the hole dug under Jim's bed. As they go over a fence, the men shoot at
them and set dogs on them. The dogs know the boys, however, and lose interest in the chase when they catch
up with them.
Once they seem safe on the raft, Jim and Huck are happy. However, Tom is the happiest—because he has a
bullet in his calf. However, this news takes all the pleasure out of the escape for Jim and Huck, who insist on
fetching a doctor immediately. Huck takes the canoe to go find a doctor.
Chapter 41
Huck finds a kindly old doctor and tells him that his brother has shot himself on Spanish Island. The doctor
heads for the island with Huck, but he will not ride in the flimsy canoe with a second person, so he leaves Huck
behind and paddles to the island by himself.
That night, Huck sleeps in a lumber pile and awakens in broad daylight. Before he can start back to the island,
he runs into Uncle Silas, who makes him accompany him home. The house is full of farmers and their wives
talking about the crazy runaway slave who has left all manner of strange things in the cabin, such as the giant
grindstone. No one can explain who did all the work that must have been done in the cabin.
As the day wears into night and Tom does not appear, Aunt Sally and Uncle Silas grow increasingly worried.
Huck tries to reassure Aunt Sally, who makes him promise not to leave the house again. Three times he slides
down the lightning rod, but changes his mind about leaving when he sees Aunt Sally patiently sitting on the
front porch with a candle.
Chapter 42
The next morning, Uncle Silas fails to learn anything in town about Tom's whereabouts. When he returns, he
gives Aunt Sally a letter he collected at the post office the day before. It is from her sister, Aunt Polly. Sensing
what trouble that message must contain, Huck starts to leave, but at that moment, Tom appears. He is carried
to the house on a mattress. The old doctor is with him, as is Jim, with his hands tied behind him.
Jim's captors are treating him roughly and some want to hang him as an example for other would-be runaways.
Others are opposed because they do not want to be responsible for paying Jim's owner. The men take Jim back
to the cabin and chain him up tightly, but the doctor suggests that Jim be treated more kindly. He explains how
when he found Tom on the island and needed help badly, Jim emerged from hiding and gave him all the help he
could, risking his own freedom to provide it. The men agree that Jim has acted well, but no one moves to
lighten his load of chains.
As Aunt Sally nurses Tom through the night, Huck dodges Uncle Silas in order to avoid embarrassing questions.
The next morning Huck visits Tom, who astounds Aunt Sally by confessing that he and Huck are behind Jim's
escape. His ecstasy is spoiled, however, when he learns that Jim is again a prisoner. He now stuns both Huck
and Aunt Sally by saying that Jim is a free man. Miss Watson died two months earlier, he reveals, freeing Jim in
her will. Tom explains that he engineered the entire escape for the "adventure of it" and demands that Jim be
set free immediately.
At that moment, Aunt Sally's sister Polly enters the room. Aunt Sally gets her third thunderbolt when Polly
explains that "Sid" is really Tom and "Tom" is really Huck Finn. Her confusion is tame, however, compared to
what Uncle Silas experiences when everything is explained to him. Aunt Polly verifies that Jim is free. It
emerges that Tom has been intercepting all the letters she has sent to Sally.
Chapter the Last
When Huck finally speaks privately with Tom, he asks what Tom intended to do with Jim if the "evasion"
worked. Tom explains that he had hoped to continue rafting down the river, having adventures. Then, when
they reached the mouth of the river, he would tell Jim that he was free and take him home on a steamboat, "in
style, and pay him for his lost time," and have a big reception for him on his arrival at home.
Jim is freed soon after Aunt Polly's arrival. Tom gives him $40 for having been a patient prisoner and suggests
that some time he, Huck, and Jim make a trip into Indian Territory. Huck says he could not afford to pay for the
outfit, because he reckons that his Pap has all his money by now. Now it is Jim's turn for a revelation. He tells
Huck that the murdered man they saw in the floating house (chapter 9) was his father.
After Tom gets well, he wears his bullet around his neck on a watch-guard. Huck says that Aunt Sally wants to
adopt him. He cannot stand that idea and reckons that he must "light out for the Territory ahead of the rest."
Rasmussen, R. Kent. "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." Critical Companion to Mark Twain: A Literary
Reference to His Life and Work, Critical Companion. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2007. Bloom's Literary
Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc.