Chapters 36 and 37 Summary and Analysis
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 spoon, a brass candlestick, six candles, and three tin plates. The next night when everyone is in bed they finally dig their way into Jim’s cabin in two and one-half hours. Happy to see them, Jim wants to cut the chain and clear out immediately, but Tom shows him that it would be highly “unregular.” He explains the plan to Jim, telling him that in case of danger the plan could be quickly altered. Tom assures Jim they will, indeed, see that he gets away. They talk about old times, and Jim informs them about the prayers Uncle Silas has with him every day or two. Aunt Sally also stops by often to make sure he is comfortable. This gives Tom the idea of smuggling things to Jim through his aunt and uncle’s pockets. Jim must then sneak them out. Despite Huck’s objections Tom goes right ahead with his plan.
Aunt Sally begins to notice that things are missing around the house. A big argument ensues between her and Uncle Silas. She rails at him for losing his shirt but finally concedes that the calf probably got the shirt off the line. She is sure the rats got the candles, but the pewter spoon is still a mystery. In the middle of her long diatribe on the need for Uncle Silas to stop up the rat holes, a servant announces a bedsheet is also missing. This is almost more than she can take. In the middle of it all, Uncle Silas reaches into his coat pocket and timidly pulls out the pewter spoon secretly put there by Tom. Eventually she orders all of them out of the house. Later, Tom conjures up a plan to confuse Aunt Sally about the count of the sheets and spoons by alternately taking one out and then sneaking it back so her count is inconsistent. She finally becomes thoroughly confused about the true number of her sheets and spoons.
Tom and Huck decide to bake the rope ladder into a witch pie to satisfy the hunger of the witches who are constantly aggravating Nat, giving him no peace. Nat is, of course, grateful and cooperative. The boys take the rope ladder, made with a torn-up sheet, to the woods. They have enough rope for forty pies, however, so they finally throw most of the rope ladder away. They bring the witch pie to Jim’s cabin, and Nat turns his back to ward off the witches. Following directions explicitly, Jim quickly breaks open the pie, hides the rope ladder inside his mattress, and throws out the tin plates after scratching some marks on them.
Discussion and Analysis
Twain’s ironic use of the word “moral” in this section of the novel is reminiscent of the earlier incident on the Walter Scott. When the gang of murderers on board contemplate killing Jim Turner, they decide “it ain’t good sense, it ain’t good morals.” Ironically, the
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