The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

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Chapters 34 and 35 Summary and Analysis

New Character
Nat: a slave who brings food to Jim

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.” Knowing they will do it Tom’s way no matter what Huck proposes, he gives in to Tom’s elaborate plans.

Huck is still wondering why a respectable, kind, and intellegent boy like Tom would stoop so low as to steal Jim out of slavery. He tries to stop him, but Tom says he knows what he is doing.

After dark they examine the hut and plan the rescue. Huck suggests several simple and practical methods such as having Jim climb out of a high window or sawing a hole in the cabin the way he had done when he escaped from Pap. Tom, however, holds out for some complicated method that would take twice as long. They finally decide to spend a week digging him out.

When they arrive at the house, Huck simply pulls the latchstring and walks in through the door. This is not romantic enough for Tom, however, who enters by climbing the lightning rods. He finally makes it after three tries and several painful falls.

In the morning they go down to the slave cabins to befriend the dogs so that they will not bark at them while they are digging Jim out. They meet the man who brings food to Jim. He naively invites them to come and see his prisoner. Jim, surprised and happy to see them, blurts out the boys’ names. The man asks Huck and Tom whether Jim knows them, but they flatly deny it. They convince him that the witches are causing him to hear things. When they get a chance they whisper the plan of escape to Jim. He squeezes their hands in gratitude and promises to pretend they are strangers from now on.

Tom, disgusted that the plan of escape is too easy, is constantly trying to “invent all the difficulties.” He wishes for a watchman to drug, or a dog to give a sleeping mixture to. Though one could easily slip the chain off the bedpost, Tom wants to saw the leg off Jim’s bed to remove the chain. He goes so far as to consider amputating Jim’s leg to get the chain off.

Instead of picks and shovels, Tom insists on digging him out with case knives because he has read about this in books. He also insists that the escape should take thirty-seven years. They need to hurry though, for when Mr. Phelps hears Jim is not from New Orleans, he will probably advertise him. They decide to “let on” or pretend that they had been at it for thirty-seven years. Huck tries to bring Tom...

(The entire section is 1,096 words.)