What are 3 experiences in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn that have dramatic impacts?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

During the course of his journey down the Mississippi River, Huck has several dramatic experiences that effect emotional changes in both Huck and Jim. Here are three:

1. In Chapter XVI as Jim talks about his getting free and how he will get his wife and children with the help of an Abolitionist, Huck feels Jim has no right to steal his wife and children from a man. 

My conscience got to stirring me up hotter than ever, until at last I says to it. "Let up on me--it ain't too late, yet--I'll paddle ashore at the first light, and tell."

So, when Jim thinks he has spotted Cairo, Illinois, Huck volunteers to take the canoe and find out. But, before he leaves, Jim tells Huck that soon he will be shouting his freedom and crediting Huck for having helped him--"Huck you's de bes' fren' Jim's ever had: en you's de only fren' olde Jim's got now." These tender words of Jim affect Huck profoundly, but he tells himself he must continue. Soon a couple of men come along looking for runaway slaves; they ask about the raft and who is on it: "He's white," Huck lies. When the men say they will look for themselves, Huck pretends his father is on the raft with an illness that he is reluctant to speak of. Therefore, the men assume his father has smallpox, and guiltily leave Huck some money.  After they leave, Huck recriminates himself for being like and Abolitionist, so he concludes that he will just do what "comes handiest at the time."

2.  In Chapter XiX Jim and Huck come ashore. There Huck is chased by dogs that belong to Buck Grangerford. When he learns that Huck is not part of their mortal enemy's family, the Shepherdsons, Buck invites him to stay. While he is at the home of these Southern aristocrats, Huck learns both the meaning of a feud and the meaninglessness of the rampant killing of the two families when Buck's sister Sophie marries Harvey Shepherdson. After this, the two families battle, and many are shot and killed. Huck narrates that he did not want to talk about what happen

I staid in the tree till it begun to get dard, afraid to come down.  Sometimes I heard guns away off in the woods; and twice I seen little gangs of men gallop past the log-store with guns; so I reckoned the trouble was still agoing on. I was mighty downhearted; so I made up my mind I wouldn't ever go anear that house again, because I reckoned I was to blame, somehow.

When Huck returns to the riverbank, he discovers that the raft is gone, but soon he finds Jim, who has been hiding. Jim is elated to see him and tells him, "Laws bless you childe, I'uz right down sho'you's dead agin....I's mighty glad to git you gack agin, honey."

3. After Jim and Huck reunite, their bond grows stronger, and they revel in the peacefulness of being on the river. In fact, Huck's feeling for the river and its natural beauty lends the narrative a mythological aura. As they traverse a channel, Huck and Jim lie on the raft watching the rafts and steamboats "spin down the Missouri shore." On the second night, they catch fish and talk, then swim some until they become sleepy.

It was kind of solemn, drifting down the big still river, laying on our backs looking up at the stars, and we didn't ever feel like talking loud, and it warn't often that we laughed, only a little kind of a low chuckle.

On the river, away from society, Huck and Jim are equals.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Arguably, the experience that Huck has with the most dramatic impact has to be with the Phelps family and the way that this situation is resolved in Chapter 29. There is very little that is more dramatic, with the two other imposters showing up and the argument over which set of imposters is real, and then the digging up of the body at night and the discovery of the lost gold on top of the corpse's chest with the lightning bolt that reveals it to everybody. This is high drama at its best! Note how Huck describes the excitement of those around him:

At last they got out the coffin and begun to unscrew the lid, and then such another crowding and shouldering and shoving as there was, to scrouge in and get another sight, you never see; and in the dark, that way, it was awful.

It is only thanks to the "perfect sluice of white glare" that comes from the lightning bolt that Huck is able to escape and run for the raft. Note how this situation resolves Huck's dilemma, because now, presumably, the money will be returned to the Phelps daughters and they will be able to get their slaves back. It also gives a chance for Huck and Jim to escape the king and the duke, which unfortunately does not happen. This is without a doubt the most dramatic scene in the book.

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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