Study Guide

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Quotes

Essential Quotes

Essential Quotes by Character: Jim

Essential Passage 1: Chapter 2

As soon as Tom was back we cut along the path, around the garden fence, and by and by fetched up on the steep top of the hill the other side of the house. Tom said he slipped Jim's hat off of his head and hung it on a limb right over him, and Jim stirred a little, but he didn't wake. Afterwards Jim said the witches bewitched him and put him in a trance, and rode him all over the state, and then set him under the trees again, and hung his hat on a limb to show who done it. And next time Jim told it he said they rode him down to New Orleans; and, after that, every time he told it he spread it more and more, till by and by he said they rode him all over the world, and tired him most to death, and his back was all over saddle-boils. Jim was monstrous proud about it, and he got so he wouldn't hardly notice the other niggers. Niggers would come miles to hear Jim tell about it, and he was more looked up to than any nigger in that country. Strange niggers would stand with their mouths open and look him all over, same as if he was a wonder. Niggers is always talking about witches in the dark by the kitchen fire; but whenever one was talking and letting on to know all about such things, Jim would happen in and say, “Hm! What you know 'bout witches?” and that nigger was corked up and had to take a back seat. Jim always kept that five-center piece round his neck with a string, and said it was a charm the devil give to him with his own hands, and told him he could cure anybody with it and fetch witches whenever he wanted to just by saying something to it; but he never told what it was he said to it. Niggers would come from all around there and give Jim anything they had, just for a sight of that five-center piece; but they wouldn't touch it, because the devil had had his hands on it. Jim was most ruined for a servant, because he got stuck up on account of having seen the devil and been rode by witches.

Huck, bored and lonely at the widow’s home, takes off in the night with Tom Sawyer, looking for some adventures. They come across Jim, Miss Watson’s slave, asleep under a tree. Knowing how superstitious Jim is, Tom decides to play a prank on the slave. He removes his hat and hangs it on a nearby tree. When Jim wakes up and sees his hat, he is convinced that it was witches who put it there. In the future, he makes up a wild tale in which he was transported all across the state in a trance and then returned to the tree where the witches hung up his hat. He later elaborates it further, stating that he was carried down to New Orleans, and then even further until at last his account includes a trip clear around the world. His supposed encounter with witches then gives Jim a new sense of importance around the slave community, which he relishes. Huck proclaims that Jim was almost ruined as a servant because he became so proud of having seen the devil and ridden with witches. Jim’s gullibility and superstitious nature thus are set up for further development in the rest of the story.

Essential Passage 2: Chapter 15

It had clouded up pretty dark just after I got on to the raft, but it was clearing up again now.

“Oh, well, that's all interpreted well enough as far as it goes, Jim,” I says; “but what does these things stand for?”

It was the leaves and rubbish on the raft and the smashed oar. You could see them first-rate now.

Jim looked at the trash, and then looked at me, and back at the trash again. He had got the dream fixed so strong in his head that he couldn't seem to shake it loose and get the facts back into its place again right away. But when he did get the thing straightened around he looked at me steady without ever smiling, and says:

“What do dey stan' for? I'se gwyne to tell you. When I got all wore out wid work, en wid de callin' for you, en went to sleep, my heart wuz mos' broke bekase you wuz los', en I didn' k'yer no' mo' what become er me en de raf'. En when I wake up en fine you back ag'in, all safe en soun', de tears come, en I could 'a' got down on my knees en kiss yo' foot, I's so thankful. En all you wuz thinkin' 'bout wuz how you could make a fool uv ole Jim wid a lie. Dat truck dah is trash; en trash is what people is dat puts dirt on de head er dey fren's en makes 'em ashamed.”

Then he got up slow and walked to the wigwam, and went in there without saying anything but that. But that was enough. It made me feel so mean I could almost kissed his foot to get him to take it back.

It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a nigger; but I done it, and I warn't ever sorry for it afterward, neither. I didn't do him no more mean tricks, and I wouldn't done that one if I'd 'a' knowed it would make him feel that way.

Huck and Jim are traveling down the Mississippi, intending to reach Cairo, Illinois, and then head up the Ohio River to the northern states and freedom. However, a dense fog arises, and Jim and the raft drift from the bank, stranding Huck on shore. When the fog clears, Huck finds the raft and quietly sneaks on board, surprising Jim. Huck, however, still taking advantage of Jim’s gullibility, convinces him that he had been on the raft the whole time. However, when Jim spots the leaves and twigs on the raft,...

(The entire section is 2311 words.)

Essential Quotes by Theme: Moral Law vs. Civil Law

Essential Passage 1: Chapter 8

“How do you come to be here, Jim, and how'd you get here?”

He looked pretty uneasy, and didn't say nothing for a minute. Then he says:

“Maybe I better not tell.”

“Why, Jim?”

“Well, dey's reasons. But you wouldn' tell on me ef I 'uz to tell you, would you, Huck?”

“Blamed if I would, Jim.”

“Well, I b'lieve you, Huck. I—I run off.”


“But mind, you said you wouldn' tell—you know you said you wouldn' tell, Huck.”

“Well, I did. I said I wouldn't, and I'll stick to it. Honest injun, I will. People would call me a low-down Abolitionist and despise me for keeping mum—but that don't make no difference. I ain't a-going to tell, and I ain't a-going back there, anyways. So, now, le's know all about it.”

Huck has escaped his father by going to Jackson Island. After a few days, Huck notices signs of some other inhabitants on the island. Frightened that it might be his father, he hides for a few hours and then goes in search of who it might be. He comes across a figure sleeping by a fire and discovers it is Jim, Miss Watson’s slave. The two join forces and prepare a meal. Huck explains to Jim his deception in order to escape. He then asks Jim how it is that he is alone on the island. Jim confesses that he has run away, which had been a crime in the slave states prior to the Civil War. He begs Huck not to turn him in. Huck has promised he would not and he intends to stick by it. This promise is problematic because Huck can be held liable for not reporting a runaway slave. However, at this first instance of a moral choice, Huck refuses to turn Jim in to the authorities, even if he is called a “low down Abolitionist,” a term that is of high contempt in the South.

Essential Passage 2: Chapter 16

“Dah you goes, de ole true Huck; de on'y white genlman dat ever kep' his promise to ole Jim.”

Well, I just felt sick. But I says, I got to do it—I can't get out of it. Right then along comes a skiff with two men in it with guns, and they stopped and I stopped. One of them says:

“What's that yonder?”

“A piece of a raft,” I says.

“Do you belong on it?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Any men on it?”

“Only one, sir.”

“Well, there's five niggers run off to-night up yonder, above the head of the bend. Is your man white or black?”

I didn't answer up prompt. I tried to, but the words wouldn't come. I tried for a second or two to brace up and out with it, but I warn't man enough—hadn't the spunk of a rabbit. I see I was weakening; so I just give up trying, and up and says:

“He's white.”

As Jim and Huck approach Cairo and freedom, Huck becomes more bothered by what he is doing. On the one hand, Jim is fast becoming his friend. Jim has confided in Huck, relating to him his plans to buy his family eventually. On the other hand, Huck feels bound by the law, which states that it is a crime to aid an escaping slave. As Huck prepares to go to shore to ascertain their exact location, he decides his conscience is leading him to report Jim to the authorities. He feels the heaviness lifting somewhat; he is feeling that he is doing the right thing. Almost sensing the choice that Huck has before him, Jim mentions that he can count on Huck, who has promised not to tell of Jim’s location. These words are still in Huck's ears when he approaches men who are looking for escaped slaves. When the men ask Huck if the other man on the raft is white or black, Huck is presented with a moral choice, more insistent than before. With some hesitation, he chooses once again to stick to his promise to Jim. He goes against the law and tells the men that his friend is white.

Essential Passage 3:

(The entire section is 1806 words.)