Study Guide

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Summary

Overview

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Summary
Mark Twain blends many comic elements into the story of Huck Finn, a boy about 13 years old, living in pre-Civil War Missouri. Huck, the novel’s narrator, has been living with the Widow Douglas and her sister, Miss Watson, in the town of St. Petersburg. They have been trying to “sivilize” him with proper dress, manners, and religious piety. He finds this life constraining and false and would rather live free and wild. When his father hears that Huck has come into a large amount of money, he kidnaps him and locks him in an old cabin across the river. To avoid his father’s cruel beatings, Huck elaborately stages his own death and then escapes to Jackson’s Island. He finds Jim, Miss Watson’s runaway slave, on the island, and the two decide to hide out together. To avoid danger of discovery, they decide to float down the river on a raft they had found earlier. Sleeping during the day and traveling at night, they plan to connect with the Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois, which would lead them north into the free states, where slavery is outlawed. They miss Cairo in the fog one night and find themselves floating deeper into slave territory. While they are searching for a canoe, a steamship hits the raft and damages it. Huck and Jim are separated.

Huck swims ashore where he meets the feuding Grangerfords and Shepherdsons. He claims to be George Jackson, a passenger who fell from a steamboat and swam to shore. After witnessing a violent eruption of the feud in which many people are killed, he finds Jim, and they return to the raft.

They continue down the river. Two conmen, calling themselves a king and a duke, find their way to the raft. In one of the towns the king and the duke impersonate the two brothers of Peter Wilks, who has just died and left a small fortune. Huck thwarts their plan to swindle Wilks’ family out of their inheritance. The king and the duke escape, but further down the river the two decide to sell Jim to Silas Phelps, who turns out to be Tom Sawyer’s uncle.

Visiting his aunt and uncle, Tom persuades Huck to join him in an elaborate, ridiculous plan to free Jim. Huck prefers a quicker escape for Jim but caves in to Tom’s wishes. Only after Tom’s plan has been played out, and Jim recaptured, does Tom reveal that Miss Watson had actually freed Jim two months earlier, just before she died. Huck decides to “light out for the Territory,” to head west toward the frontier before anyone can attempt to “sivilize” him again.

Estimated Reading Time

The reading of the novel is slowed somewhat by an unfamiliarity with Twain’s use of regional dialects and nonstandard English. After the first few chapters, a familiarity with the unique speech of each of the characters should, however, speed the reading process. The reader should be able to finish the novel in approximately 12 hours.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Summary (Critical Survey of Literature, Masterpiece Edition)

Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn had found a box of gold in a robber’s cave. After Judge Thatcher had taken the money and invested it for the boys, each had the huge allowance of a dollar a day. The Widow Douglas and her sister, Miss Watson, had taken Huck home with them to try to reform him. At first, Huck could not stand living in a tidy house where smoking and swearing were forbidden. Worse, he had to go to school and learn how to read. He did, however, manage to drag himself to school almost every day, except for the times when he sneaked off for a smoke in the woods or to go fishing on the Mississippi River.

Life was beginning to become bearable to him when one day he noticed a boot print in the snow. Examining it closely, he realized that it belonged to his worthless father, whom he had not seen for more than a year. Knowing that his father would be looking for him when he learned about the money, Huck rushed to Judge Thatcher and persuaded him to take the fortune for himself. The judge was puzzled, but he signed some papers, and Huck was satisfied that he no longer had any money for his father to take from him.

Huck’s father showed up one night in Huck’s room at Widow Douglas’ home. Complaining that he had been cheated out of his money, the old drunkard later took Huck away with him to a cabin in the Illinois woods, where he kept the boy a prisoner, beating him periodically and half starving him. Huck was allowed to smoke and swear, however, and before long he began to wonder why he had ever liked living with the widow. His life with his father would have been pleasant if it had not been for the beatings. One day, he sneaked away, leaving a bloody trail from a pig he had killed in the woods. Huck wanted everyone to believe he was dead. He climbed into a canoe and went to Jackson’s Island to hide until all the excitement had blown over.

After three days of freedom, Huck wandered to another part of the island, and there he discovered Jim, Miss Watson’s black slave, who told Huck that he had run off because he had overheard Miss Watson planning to sell him down south for eight hundred dollars. Huck swore he would not report Jim. The two stayed on the island many days, Jim giving Huck an education in primitive superstition. One night, Huck paddled back to the mainland. Disguised as a girl, he called on a home near the shore. There he learned that his father had disappeared shortly after the people of the town concluded that Huck had been murdered. Since Jim had disappeared just after Huck’s apparent death, there was now a three-hundred-dollar reward posted for Jim’s capture, for most people believed that he had killed Huck.

Knowing that Jackson’s Island would soon be searched, Huck hurried back to Jim, and the two headed down the Mississippi on a raft. They planned to sell the raft at Cairo, Illinois, and then go on a steamboat up the Ohio River into free territory. Jim told Huck that he would work hard in the North and then buy his wife and children from their masters in the South. Helping a runaway slave bothered Huck’s conscience, but he reasoned that it would bother him more if he betrayed a good friend. One night, as they were drifting down the river on their raft, a large steamboat loomed before them, and Huck and Jim, knowing that the raft would be smashed under the hull of the ship, jumped into the water. Huck swam safely to shore, but Jim disappeared.

Huck found a home with a friendly family named Grangerford, who were feuding with the nearby Shepherdson family. The Grangerfords treated Huck kindly and left him mostly to himself, even giving him a young slave to wait on him. One day, the slave asked him to come to the woods to see some snakes. Following the boy, Huck came across Jim, who had been hiding in the woods waiting for an opportunity to send for Huck. Jim had repaired the broken raft. That night, one of the Grangerford daughters eloped with a young Shepherdson, and the feud broke out once more. Huck and Jim ran away after the shooting and set off down the river.

Shortly afterward, Jim and Huck met two men who pretended they were European royalty and made all sorts of nonsensical demands on Huck and Jim. Huck was not taken in, but he reasoned that it would do no harm to humor the two men to prevent quarreling. The Duke and the King were clever schemers. In one of the small river towns, they staged a fake show, which lasted long enough to net them a few hundred dollars. Then they ran off before the angered townspeople could catch them.

From a talkative young man, the King learned about the death of Peter Wilks, who had left considerable property and some cash to his three daughters. Wilks’s two brothers, whom no one in the town had ever seen, were living in England. The King and the Duke went to the three nieces, Mary Jane, Susan, and Joanna, and presented themselves as the two English uncles. They took all of the inheritance and then put up the property for auction and sold the slaves. This high-handed deed caused great grief to the girls, and Huck could not bear to see them so unhappy. He decided to expose the two frauds, but he wanted to ensure Jim’s safety first. Jim had been hiding in the woods waiting for his companions to return to him. Employing an ingenious series of lies, subterfuges, and maneuverings, Huck exposed the Duke and King. Huck fled back to Jim, and the two escaped on their raft. Just as Jim and Huck thought they were on their way and well rid of their former companions, the Duke and King came rowing down the river toward them.

The whole party set out again, with the Duke and the King planning to continue their schemes to hoodwink people in the towns along the river. In one town, the King turned Jim in for a reward, and he was sold. Huck had quite a tussle with his conscience. He knew that he ought to help return a slave to the rightful owner, yet on the other hand he thought of all the fine times he and Jim had had together and how loyal a friend Jim had been. Finally, Huck decided that he would help Jim to escape.

Learning that Silas Phelps was holding Jim, he headed for the Phelps farm. Mrs. Phelps ran up and hugged him, mistaking him for the nephew whom she had been expecting to come for a visit. Huck wondered how he could keep Mrs. Phelps from learning that he was not her nephew. Then to his relief, he learned they had mistaken him for Tom Sawyer. Huck rather liked being Tom for a while, and he was able to tell the Phelps all about Tom’s Aunt Polly and Sid and Mary, Tom’s brother and sister. Huck was feeling proud of himself for keeping up the deception. Tom Sawyer, when he arrived, told his aunt that he was his own brother, Sid.

At the first opportunity, Huck told Tom about Jim’s capture. To Huck’s surprise, Tom offered to help him set Jim free. Huck could not believe that Tom would be a slave stealer, but he kept his feelings to himself. Huck had intended merely to wait until there was a dark night and then break the padlock on the door of the shack where Jim was kept; but Tom said the rescue had to be done according to the books, and he laid out a highly complicated plan. It took fully three weeks of plotting, stealing, and deceit to get Jim out of the shack. The scheme resulted in a chase, however, in which Tom was shot in the leg. After Jim was recaptured, Tom was brought back to Aunt Sally’s house to recover from his wound. There, he revealed the fact that Miss Watson had died, giving Jim his freedom in her will. Huck was greatly relieved to learn that Tom was not really a slave stealer after all.

When Tom’s Aunt Polly arrived unexpectedly, she quickly set straight the identities of the two boys. Jim was given his freedom, and Tom gave him forty dollars. Tom told Huck that his money was still safely in the hands of Judge Thatcher, and when Huck moaned that his father would likely be back to claim it again, Jim told Huck that his father was dead; Jim had seen him lying in a derelict house they had seen floating in the river. Huck was ready to start out again because Aunt Sally said she thought she might adopt him and try to civilize him. Huck thought that he could not go through such a trial again after having tried to be civilized once before under the care of Widow Douglas.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Summary (Masterpieces of American Literature)

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn may at first have seemed to Twain to be an obvious and easy sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, but this book, begun in the mid-1870 s, then abandoned, then taken up again in 1880 and dropped again, was not ready to be published until 1884. It was worth the delay. It proved to be Twain’s finest novel—not merely his finest juvenile work but his best fiction, and a book that has taken its place as one of the greatest novels written in the United States. In some ways it is a simpler novel than The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; it has nothing like the complication of plot which made that earlier novel so compelling.

Huck, harassed by the Widow Douglas and her sister, Miss Watson, who want to give him a good home and a place in normal society, and by his brutal father, who wants to get his hands on the money that Huck and Tom found in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, decides to get away from it all, and he runs away. This time, he does not have the tempering influence of Tom Sawyer, who was prepared to run away to a nearby island but could not resist going home for his own funeral. Tom is only an occasional renegade, eager for the romance but not the long-term reality of rebellion. Huck is of tougher stuff, and he intends to go for good. No better indication of this is to be seen than in the simple fact that Tom tries to smoke but does not have the stomach for it: Huck does not play at it. He is a real smoker and a real rebel—or so he thinks.

Kidnapped by his father and held captive by him, Huck revels at least in the freedom of the barbaric world without soap, water, or school, but he manages to get away, leaving a trail that suggests he has been murdered, and heads for an island in the Mississippi as a start on his attempt to get away from his father and from the well-meaning sisters who would turn him into a respectable citizen. He is on his way to leave all of his troubles behind him.

It is at this point that Twain adds the complication that is to be central to the ascent of this novel from juvenile fancy to the level of moral seriousness. Huck discovers that Jim, Miss Watson’s Negro slave, has also run away, having overheard her plans to sell him to a southern farmer. Jim, whose wife and children have already been separated from him and sold to a southern owner, is determined to escape to the free northern states, work as a free man, and eventually buy his family out of bondage. Huck is determined to help him, but he is also unnerved by his concern for Jim’s owner. Jim is property before he is a man, and Huck is deeply troubled, surprisingly, by the thought that he is going to help Jim. He sees it, in part, as a robbery, but more interestingly, he sees his cooperation as a betrayal of his obligation to the white society of which he is a member. Huck, the renegade, has, despite himself, deeply ingrained commitments to the idea that white people are superior to black people, and for all his disdain for that society, he is strongly wedded to it.

This conflict provides the psychological struggle for Huck throughout the novel. Even when the two move on, driven by the news that in the town a reward has been posted for Jim, accusing him of murdering Huck, Huck carries a strong sense of wrongdoing because he is helping Jim to escape—not from the murder charge, which can be easily refuted, but from his mistress, who clearly owns him and is entitled to do with him what she will.

Nevertheless, Huck and Jim set off on the raft, which is wedded archetypally to the Ulyssean ship and may be seen as the vehicle for Huck to find out who he is and what kind of man he is likely to become. The pattern is a common one in the history of fiction; Twain weds it to another common structure, the picaresque, which has a long literary history and in which the main characters, while traveling, encounter trials and tribulations that test their wits and ultimately their moral fiber. Twain tends to open this pattern up to include examples of human behavior that do not necessarily have any influence on Huck and Jim but rather indicate Twain’s pessimism about human nature in general. The Grangerford-Shepherdson feud, for example, shows the kind of virulent stupidity that can obsess even relatively civilized human beings.

The confidence men who call themselves the Duke and the King, however, take over the raft and use Huck and Jim (and anyone else they can deceive) for profit without concern of any kind. They reveal a much deeper strain of human degradation, which anticipates the inhumanity that is to become even more common in Twain’s later works. Huck fears these men but is reluctant to make a clean break from them, though it is fair to remember that they watch him and Jim very closely. The ultimate betrayal comes when Huck, who has let their confidence games be played out in several communities, draws the line when they try to defraud a family of three daughters of their inheritance. The Duke and the King escape without discovering that Huck has revealed their plan. Undismayed by their loss, they start their fraudulent games again, committing their most thoughtlessly cruel act by selling Jim for the reward money.

This is the point of no return for Huck. Jim—ignorant, superstitious, and timid but loyal and devoted to Huck—has, on the long trip down the river, shown over and over that he is a man of considerable character, despite his color and despite his disadvantaged life as a slave. Huck, in turn, discovers that however much he tries to distinguish Jim as other than an equal, however much he is bothered by his determination to see Jim as a lesser being than the white man, he cannot ignore his growing concern for him nor his deepening affection and respect for the way in which Jim endures and goes on. Disgusted by the unfeeling barbarity of the King and the Duke, Huck sets out to free Jim, believing that in so doing, he will go to Hell.

Here the novel returns to the less dangerous world of Tom Sawyer, as it turns out that Jim’s new jailors are, in fact, Tom Sawyer’s aunt and uncle. Huck passes himself off as Tom in order to get to Jim, who is being kept in a farm outhouse. With the arrival of Tom himself, who passes himself off as his brother Sid, the fun begins, as Tom, as wildly romantic as ever, plots to free Jim the hardest way possible. From this moment on, the novel can be said to fall away from the power that has been explored in Huck’s battle to come to terms with his loyalties to society, to his own race, and, most important, to Jim. That battle has been won when Huck decides to save Jim.

All works out well in the end. Tom reveals that a repentant Miss Watson freed Jim before she died, and Aunt Sally, Tom’s aunt, thinks she might have a try at civilizing Huck. Huck has other ideas. All this horseplay on the farm is irrelevant, if pleasingly so, to the real strength of the novel, which lies in the journey down the mighty Mississippi, during which Huck Finn learns to care for someone, and perhaps more important, throws off that least valuable influence of society upon him: its belief that white people are superior to black people and have a right to treat human beings as property. Huck, in a sense, comes to the end of this novel as the most civilized white person of all.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Summary (Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

The story of a poor and uneducated boy from eastern Missouri, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is narrated by Huck himself. He relates his adventures as he travels down the Mississippi River on a raft with a runaway slave named Jim. The book satirizes antebellum Southern society and the constraints of civilization, which both Huck and Jim are attempting to escape. Mark Twain’s use of dialects is one of the most original and influential aspects of the novel, and in many ways sets it apart as a masterwork of American literature. However, his use of dialect has also sparked controversy.

Almost immediately upon publication, the rough language Huck uses evoked calls for excluding the book from libraries. As the Boston Transcript reported in March, 1885, that the Concord, Massachusetts, public library committee “decided to exclude Mark Twain’s latest book from the library. One member of the committee says that, while he does not wish to call it immoral, he thinks it contains but little humor, and that of a very coarse type. He regards it as the veriest trash.” Mark Twain responded that the calls for censorship would only help sell more copies.

Since the novel’s publication, it has been removed from libraries or schools in Denver (in 1902), New York City (1957), Winnetka, Illinois (1976), San Jose, California (1995), and many other places. As late as the mid-1990’s efforts to remove it from classroom use failed in Plano, Texas, and Tempe, Arizona. The civil liberties group People for the American Way estimated that Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was the third most- challenged book in America in 1996.

The most common reason for the controversy is the frequency with which Huck uses the racial epithet “nigger” to describe Jim. Although Huck clearly evolves over the course of the story in his appreciation of Jim as a friend, father figure, and human being (he even opts to risk damnation for helping Jim seek freedom), many critics have pointed out that Huck often portrays Jim as a shallow character with minstrel-like comic simplicity.

Late twentieth century debates have moved from the question of whether the book should be taught to how and at what level it should be taught. Scholars have shown that Mark Twain himself held sophisticated and enlightened views on race, slavery, and post-reconstruction treatment of African Americans. Many scholars and teachers have advocated adding historical context to the learning process, so that students are better prepared to decode the language and grapple with the deeper moral and historical issues the book raises.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Summary

Mickey Rooney as Huckleberry Finn Published by Gale Cengage

Chapters 1-7: Huck's Escape
Mark Twain begins The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with a...

(The entire section is 1555 words.)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapter Summary and Analysis

Chapter 1 Summary and Analysis

New Characters
Huckleberry Finn: the protagonist and narrator

Widow Douglas: Huck’s guardian

Miss Watson: the widow’s sister

Tom Sawyer: Huck’s best friend

Summary
Huck Finn introduces himself as a character who has already appeared in Mark Twain’s earlier novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. He briefly reviews the end of Tom Sawyer’s story, reminding the reader how he and Tom found money that robbers had hidden in a cave. Judge Thatcher has invested the money for them, six thousand dollars apiece in gold, and the interest alone is now worth a dollar a day, a large amount of money at that time.

The Widow Douglas has...

(The entire section is 515 words.)

Chapters 2 and 3 Summary and Analysis

New Characters
Jim: Miss Watson’s black slave

Jo Harper and Ben Rogers: two members of Tom and Huck’s gang

Tommy Barnes: the youngest member of the gang

Summary
As Huck and Tom Sawyer tiptoe through the garden, Huck stumbles over a root, which gets the attention of Jim, Miss Watson’s slave. He calls out, but the boys, afraid of being caught sneaking out at night, become extremely quiet. Jim sits down between them but falls asleep before he is aware that they are near enough to touch. Tom cannot resist the temptation to play a trick on Jim. He hangs Jim’s hat in the tree, knowing that Jim will wonder how it got there. The next day, seeing his...

(The entire section is 655 words.)

Chapters 4 and 5 Summary and Analysis

New Characters
Judge Thatcher: former judge who invests Huck’s money for him

Pap: Huck’s father

The new judge: tries to reform Pap

The new judge’s wife: takes Pap into her house

Summary
Huck has been going to school for about three or four months and has learned to read and write. Although he plays “hooky” occasionally, he is learning to tolerate school. He is also becoming more comfortable living with the widow.

Huck has almost forgotten his father until one day he sees his footprints in the snow. Pap’s bootheel has left the imprint of a cross made of nails, used to ward off the devil. Afraid his father has come...

(The entire section is 673 words.)

Chapters 6 and 7 Summary and Analysis

Summary
Huck continues to go to school despite the thrashings from his father. With a firm resoluteness he is determined to continue his education, more to spite his father than for any other reason. Pap is waiting around for the court to decide about Huck’s money, but it is a slow process. He hangs around the Widow Douglas’ house too much, and she threatens to make trouble for him. Angered by her attempts to intimidate him, he decides to kidnap Huck and head for the Illinois side of the river in a skiff. They settle in an old abandoned cabin where he keeps Huck locked up when he goes into town for supplies. In spite of all this, living in the woods is relaxing and easy for Huck, and he wonders why he had...

(The entire section is 578 words.)

Chapters 8 and 9 Summary and Analysis

Summary
Huck has a comfortable feeling as he wakes up on Jackson’s Island the next morning. Too lazy to get up and cook breakfast, he watches the sun filter through the tall trees, spotting the ground with “freckled places.” His peace is soon interrupted, however, with the loud “boom” of the cannon being fired from a ferryboat loaded with prominent townspeople who are looking for his murdered body. The cannon is fired over the water periodically to make Huck’s supposed dead body come to the surface. Since he has had no breakfast, he is getting hungry, but he does not dare risk starting a fire because he is afraid they will see the smoke. He suddenly remembers that loaves of bread, filled with...

(The entire section is 1062 words.)

Chapters 10 and 11 Summary and Analysis

New Characters
Mrs. Judith Loftus: a lady whom Huck visits in town

Summary
The next morning Huck wants to discuss the dead man he and Jim had seen in the two-story frame house, but Jim says talking about it will bring bad luck. Huck argues that touching a snakeskin with his hands was supposed to have brought bad luck too, but to the contrary they have found all those useful items in the floating house and eight dollars besides. They have, in his opinion, had nothing but good luck. Jim’s predictions come true, however, when a rattlesnake bites him that evening. Huck plays a joke on Jim by putting a dead rattlesnake in his blanket. When Jim goes to bed, the snake’s mate is...

(The entire section is 847 words.)

Chapters 12 and 13 Summary and Analysis

New Characters
Jim Turner: robber and potential informer on the Walter Scott

Bill and Jake Packard: robbers conspiring to kill Jim Turner

Captain: watchman of the ferryboat

Summary
After traveling all night, Huck and Jim tie up to a towhead on the Illinois side of the river. The towhead, a sandbar thick with cottonwood trees, is an ideal spot to hide during the day and watch the steamboats go up and down the river. Killing time until dark, Huck tells Jim all about his conversation with the woman on the shore. He explains that he had built the campfire to throw the woman’s husband off track, but Jim maintains that if her husband was as smart...

(The entire section is 1191 words.)

Chapters 14 and 15 Summary and Analysis

Summary
Jim and Huck take a breather after their narrow escape from the wrecked steamboat and the gang of robbers. They spend time looking over their “truck,” or goods, that the robber gang had stolen and loaded into the skiff. They find interesting articles of clothing, books, blankets, and boots, but the most valuable find is the boxes of cigars. They spend all afternoon talking, and Huck reads the newly-acquired books about kings, dukes, and earls. They get into a lengthy discussion about how royalty wears fancy clothes and everyone addresses them with “your majesty, your lordship, or your grace.” King Solomon from the Bible is the only king Jim has ever heard of, and he is not impressed with him....

(The entire section is 669 words.)

Chapters 16 and 17 Summary and Analysis

New Characters
Two men on a skiff: men looking for runaway slaves

Buck Grangerford: a boy Huck’s age

Bob and Tom: members of the Grangerford family

Betsy: Grangerford’s slave

Summary
Huck and Jim rest all day and start for Cairo at dark. When he thinks about Cairo and gaining his freedom, Jim’s excitement mounts, but Huck becomes increasingly uneasy. Painfully aware that he is helping a slave escape to freedom, his conscience suddenly bothers him. This time he cannot seem to rationalize his actions as he has done before. He does not think Miss Watson, Jim’s owner, deserves such treatment. When Jim incessantly chatters on about...

(The entire section is 961 words.)

Chapters 18 and 19 Summary and Analysis

New Characters
Colonel Grangerford: father of the Grangerford family

Mrs. Grangerford: mother of the family

Miss Charlotte: member of the family (twenty-five years old)

Miss Sophia: her twenty-year-old sister

Harney Sheperdson: the man Miss Sophia marries

Jack: Huck’s personal servant

Duke of Bridgewater: an imposter

The Dauphin: an imposter, supposed son of the late Louis XVI, King of France

Summary
Huck’s description of Colonel Grangerford, from his white linen suit to his gentlemanly ways, paints a picture of a typical aristocratic landowner of the day. He is a wealthy man who supplies...

(The entire section is 1159 words.)

Chapters 20 and 21 Summary and Analysis

New Characters
Boggs: drunkard shot by Colonel Sherburn

Colonel Sherburn: the man who shoots Boggs

Summary
The king and the duke question the idea of traveling by night and hiding by day. Huck responds with common sense to their suspicions that Jim might be a runaway slave. He assures them that a runaway would not be traveling south. In order to be more convincing, however, he produces another imaginary story about his whole family dying and leaving him, after the debts are paid, with only sixteen dollars and the family slave Jim. His pa and four-year-old brother had fallen off the raft and drowned, so he and Jim are the only ones left. He explains that they...

(The entire section is 968 words.)

Chapters 22 and 23 Summary and Analysis

New Character
Buck Harkness: man who leads the lynch mob

Summary
After the shooting, someone in town suggests that Colonel Sherburn should be lynched, and the people, led by Buck Harkness, suddenly go wild. The crowd turns into an angry mob, stopping at nothing in pursuit of revenge against Sherburn. Even children run for their lives to get out of the way of the raging mob. In a frenzy they tear down Colonel Sherburn’s picket fence and pour into his yard, ready for action.

The crowd suddenly calms down, however, when Sherburn steps out onto the roof of his porch flashing a double-barrel gun. At first he simply stares at them, saying nothing, but then he laughs...

(The entire section is 814 words.)

Chapters 24 and 25 Summary and Analysis

New Characters
Mary Jane Wilks: nineteen-year-old daughter of Peter Wilks

Susan Wilks: her sister, age 15

Joanna Wilks: the youngest sister, age 14

Dr. Robinson: Peter Wilks’ friend before Wilks died

Summary
The king and the duke waste no time making plans to “work the towns” again for more money as soon as an opportunity arises. Their escapades into town have been difficult for Jim, however. He has been posing as a runaway slave who needs to be tied up while they are gone. To avoid any further discomfort for Jim, the duke devises an ingenious disguise so that people will think he is a sick Arab instead of a runaway slave. He dresses...

(The entire section is 1131 words.)

Chapters 26 and 27 Summary and Analysis

Summary
After Dr. Robinson leaves, Mary Jane takes the visitors up to their rooms. The duke is assigned the spare room, Huck will sleep in the garret or attic, and the king is given Mary Jane’s room.

At supper that night, Huck is obligated to stand behind the king and the duke and wait on them since he is posing as their servant. The women make degrading comments about their own cooking in order to draw compliments from their guests. Huck and Joanna eat later in the kitchen. The charade is nearly exposed as she questions him about England. His information is sketchy at best, and he often contradicts himself. While Joanna is accusing him of lying, Mary Jane and Susan step into the room and...

(The entire section is 977 words.)

Chapters 28 and 29 Summary and Analysis

New Characters
Harvey Wilks: Peter Wilks’ true brother

William Wilks: deaf brother of Peter Wilks

Levi Bell: Peter Wilks’ lawyer friend

Hines: a husky man who believes the king is an imposter

Summary
In the morning, Huck passes Mary Jane’s room and sees her crying through the open door. Heartbroken about the separation of the slaves’ families, she tells Huck that her beautiful trip to England is spoiled. Uneasy about her crying, Huck quickly replies that the slaves will be back in less than two weeks. He has spoken too soon, but since he is in a “tight place,” he decides to tell the truth even though it is risky. He asks Mary...

(The entire section is 1090 words.)

Chapters 30 and 31 Summary and Analysis

Summary
The king, angry at Huck for trying to give them “the slip,” grabs him by the collar when they catch up with the raft. Afraid for his life, Huck tries to appease him with a story about the nice man who had held his hand on the way to the cemetery. Because he reminded him of his dead son, the man let him go, telling him to run for his life. Jim verifies Huck’s story, and finally the duke comes to Huck’s defense, reminding the king that he had not been concerned about Huck’s whereabouts when they had run from the scene.

The king and duke begin to argue and blame each other for hiding the money in the coffin. They both acknowledge the fact that they were tempted to keep the money for...

(The entire section is 1233 words.)

Chapters 32 and 33 Summary and Analysis

New Characters
Mr. Silas Phelps: Tom Sawyer’s uncle

Mrs. Sally Phelps: Tom’s aunt

Summary
Huck arrives at the Phelps Plantation, noticing that things are rather “still and Sunday-like.” Everyone seems to be out in the fields, and Huck paints a rather bleak picture of the depressing surroundings. As he approaches the kitchen, he hears the hum of a spinning wheel. He walks up to the house, trying to decide what to say but finally leaving it to Providence. He has aroused fifteen of the sleeping dogs that quickly surround him with their barking and howling. With her rolling pin raised, a servant steps out and silences them. Hearing the commotion, Mrs. Phelps...

(The entire section is 1116 words.)

Chapters 34 and 35 Summary and Analysis

New Character
Nat: a slave who brings food to Jim

Summary
Tom uncovers the secret of Jim’s whereabouts on the Phelps Plantation by observing one of the slaves bringing watermelon, along with other food, to a nearby hut. Since he would not be feeding watermelon to dogs, it follows that someone must be in the hut. The door to the hut is locked, and Uncle Silas holds the key. Sure that the prisoner must be Jim, Huck and Tom begin immediately to make plans to rescue him. Huck’s plan is easy. He suggests they steal the key out of Uncle Silas’s pants pocket, release Jim, and take off down the river on Huck’s raft. Tom criticizes the plan for being “mild as goosemilk.”...

(The entire section is 1096 words.)

Chapters 36 and 37 Summary and Analysis

Summary
Tom and Huck get right to work digging a tunnel into Jim’s cabin with their case knives. After several hours their hands are sore in spite of the fact that they have made little progress. Tom finally admits that his plan will not work, so they change to picks pretending they are case knives. Happy that Tom is finally becoming level-headed, Huck wholeheartedly agrees with the change of plan. They dig a sizable hole and decide to continue the next day. As usual Tom tries to climb up the lightning rod to the second floor. Dead tired and sore, he finally agrees to “let on” that the stairs are lightning rods after a bit of coaxing from Huck.

Between them the boys manage to pilfer a pewter...

(The entire section is 949 words.)

Chapters 38 and 39 Summary and Analysis

Summary
While Jim and Huck file pens out of candlesticks and a saw out of a case knife, Tom is busy working on the coat of arms for Jim. He comes up with one that is unintelligible, but it does not seem to matter as long as it comes from a book. Huck questions the meaning of such terms as “fess” and “bar sinister,” but Tom refuses to answer. Since dungeon walls were always made of stone, Tom suddenly strikes upon the idea that they could chisel both the coat of arms and the mournful inscriptions on one rock. He suggests they use the grindstone down at the mill. Huck and Tom find it too heavy to move to the cabin, however, so they decide to ask Jim to help them. He willingly takes the chain off the...

(The entire section is 1062 words.)

Chapters 40 and 41 Summary and Analysis

New Characters
The Doctor: removes the bullet from Tom’s leg

Old Mrs. Hotchkiss: a neighbor of the Phelps

Summary
After the last warning note has been sent, Huck and Tom take a picnic lunch and go fishing in the river. They check out the raft to make sure everything is in order. When they arrive home for supper that night, everyone in the house is in a state of frenzy. Worried about the threatening letter, Aunt Sally hustles them up to bed after supper without a word.

At half past eleven the boys get up and begin eating the lunch they had stolen from the cellar cupboard. Noticing the butter is missing, Tom sends Huck back to the cellar to get it...

(The entire section is 1176 words.)

Chapters 42 and 43 Summary and Analysis

Summary
The next morning Uncle Silas looks for Tom in town but comes back discouraged. He hands Aunt Sally a letter from her sister that he had picked up at the post office the day before. She starts to open the letter, but glances out of the window and drops it as she sees Tom being brought in on a mattress. He is followed by the doctor and Jim, who has his hands tied behind his back. Thinking Tom is dead, Aunt Sally runs up to him, but he is delirious and can only mutter something unintelligible. Aunt Sally is happy just to see him alive.

While the others go into the house with Tom, Huck follows the men who take Jim back to his cabin. He hears them cursing Jim and giving him an occasional blow...

(The entire section is 1094 words.)