The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a novel by Mark Twain about Huck, a mischievous boy, who runs away from his drunken father. Huck meets up with Jim, a runaway slave and they travel down the Mississippi on a raft. The two escape through various misadventures, including the family feud between the Grangerfofrds and Shepherdsons and the conning "duke and king." Finally, Jim is captured on the Phelps' farm, Huck plans an escape and, finally, it is revealed that Jim is now a freeman and Huck's father has died.
Huck and Jim reach the end of the island. At daybreak they stop and make improvements to their raft. They pass several days in peace and quiet, stopping during the day and moving down the river at night. From time to time Huck will go on shore to buy or "borrow" provisions.
They pass St. Louis and find themselves in a severe thunderstorm. During one of the lightning flashes Huck spots a grounded steamboat. He wants to go on it but Jim is hesitant. Huck finally convinces him and they tie their raft to the ship. Once on board, they see a light. Jim immediately heads back to the raft and Huck is going to follow after, when he hears voices. He stops to listen and then sneaks closer so he can hear. He hides in a stateroom as two robbers discuss killing a member of their gang, who they think will turn on them. They leave without seeing Huck and he heads back to where Jim is waiting. He tells him about the robbers and suggest they leave. Jim informs him that the raft has broken free and is gone.
Huck and Jim reach the end of the island, uneasy and unsure of what they should do next. At daybreak they tie themselves off on the Illinois side of the river and hide the raft with branches. They wait there during the day and watch the boats pass by. Huck tells Jim about the woman in the shanty. They consider what the men might have done that kept them from catching them.
Jim builds a wigwam on the raft to keep their things dry in rainy weather. He built a raised floor in the wigwam and put dirt in the center so they might build a fire. They make an extra steering oar and a fork to hang their lantern on so that they might be seen by steamboats at night. That night they start down the river, catching fish and talking, swimming on occasion to stay awake. The weather is good and the river is quiet. Several nights pass in the same manner, uneventful and enjoyable. From time to time Huck goes ashore to buy provisions or "borrow" produce from a farmer's field. Huck compares his father's encouragement to "borrow" and the widow's description of it as stealing. Jim says that Huck's father and the widow are probably both correct in a way, so he and Huck decide that the best thing to do is to pick a few things that they will never steal and then everything else will be fair to borrow. They agree that they will no longer take crabapples or persimmons.
After they pass St. Louis there is a big thunderstorm with pouring rain. They wait it out in the wigwam, allowing the raft to drift where it will. In one of the lightning flashes Huck spots a steamboat that had run into a rock. Huck immediately wants to go aboard and explore but Jim is extremely hesitant. Huck argues that there is probably not anyone on board and that it would be good for the things they might find. Jim gives in and they tie their raft to it. They climb on board and soon see a light in the officer's quarters. Jim becomes very nervous and wants to leave. Huck agrees but then hears a voice. Huck stops and listens to the conversation while Jim heads back to the raft. He sneaks in and watches the group of robbers discuss killing one of their group who is likely to turn on them. Two of them enter the room where Huck is hiding in order to discuss the situation. The men decide to tie the man to the ship and let him go down with it. They leave without seeing Huck and he sneaks out and finds Jim. He tells him about the band of robbers and suggests they leave. Jim informs him that the raft has broken loose and is gone.
Huck and Jim are trapped on the steamboat without their raft. They decide to look for the robbers' boat and escape on that. They search the ship and finally find it near the officers' quarters. Then men come out but then go back in and Huck and Jim take the boat.
Huck feels guilty about leaving the men to die, so after they find their raft, Huck takes the skiff and heads for a light in the distance. It is a ferry boat and he tells the watchman a story about a young woman trapped on the boat. The ferry man is convinced that he should help the people if he can and he heads for the boat. Huck rejoins Jim and they tie their raft up and sleep.
Huck is shocked and scared that they are trapped on the boat with a band of robbers. They begin looking for the robbers' boat so they can take it for themselves. They sneak down the starboard side and find nothing. Jim is very frightened and feels as if he cannot go on. They go through the officers' quarters and find the skiff on the other side. At that moment, the door opens and a man sticks his head out. The two men come out and put more things into the boat. They realize that the man that they are leaving behind still has his share of the cash they stole so they decide to go back and search him.
Huck and Jim get in the boat and cut it free. They slip into the water and let the current take them away from the steamboat. As they are drifting away silently they watch as she fades into the darkness and they feel safe. Jim begins to row and Huck starts to feel guilty about leaving the men behind. He proposes that the first light they see they stop near it and hide Jim and the skiff. Huck will then go notify whoever it is about the ship and the people on it. Jim agrees but it begins to rain again and no lights are to be seen.
Along the way they keep their eyes open for their raft and they soon see it. They move onto the raft and bring the contents of the skiff with them. Huck instructs Jim to keep going on the raft and show a light when he is about two miles away. Huck rows over to the light that he sees in the distance. It is a ferry boat and he finds the watch man. He pretends to cry and wakes him up. Huck sobs and carries on, eventually explaining that his mother, father and sister are on the wrecked boat, along with a woman named Miss Hooker, who is the niece of the richest man in town. The watchman is convinced that he should help out the boat and heads off in that direction. Huck is pleased with himself for going to that much trouble for the gang. He wishes the widow knew what he was doing. The steamboat dislodges itself before the ferryboat has a chance to reach it. Huck is sad that the men were not saved but he continues on and joins Jim. They go ashore and sleep.
Huck and Jim examine the things that they got from the robbers' boat. They find books and cigars and spend the afternoon smoking. Huck reads to Jim about kings and queens and they have a discussion about being a king. They talk about Solomon, who Jim professes was not wise. He believes that it is foolish to have so many wives because of the trouble it would cause. He also argues that the story of Solomon's suggestion to cut a baby in half is a stupid idea and results from the fact that he has too many children. Huck tries to explain the moral of the story but Jim is insistent.
Huck tells Jim about Louis XVII, who might have escaped to America. They talk about the French language and Jim is incredulous that there is a language that people speak that is different from English. Huck tries to use an analogy to explain the difference, pointing out that cows and cats do not speak the same language as each other or as humans. Jim agrees but points out that they are different species while Frenchmen and Englishmen are not.
Huck and Jim go through the things that the robbers had stolen. They find boots, blankets and clothes, along with books and cigars. They pass the afternoon smoking cigars and Huck reads. Huck tells Jim about his encounter with the watchman. Huck is excited about the adventures they have been having but Jim is not pleased; he recounts how scared he was on the boat to find the raft gone, since if he was rescued it meant going back to Miss Watson and if he was not rescued it meant that he would drown.
Some of the books are about royalty, and Huck reads to Jim about the lifestyles of kings and queens. Jim is amazed and asks how much kings and queens earn. Huck tells him that they can have whatever they want and they do not do anything for it. Huck describes the way they sit around except when there is a war and how they spend their time with their harem. Jim cannot understand the desire to have more than one wife since it probably means a lot of noise and a lot of trouble. They talk about Solomon and Jim asserts that Solomon was not wise since he kept so many wives. He mentions the story about the two mothers fighting over the baby, in which Solomon suggests they cut the baby in half, in order to determine the baby's true mother. Jim thinks that the idea is foolish. Huck tells him that he has missed the point but Jim insists that a half a child is a stupid thing to consider. He feels that it must be because Solomon has so many children; he feels that he can waste one by cutting into two because he has so many more.
Huck gives up talking about Solomon and begins talking about Louis XVI and his son, Louis XVII, the dauphin, who is rumored to have either died in jail or escaped to America. Jim asks what he could do as a king in America and Huck suggests that he could teach people to speak French. Jim is confused about the difference between French and English. Huck tries to explain by using an analogy of cats and cows--they do not speak the same language as each other and you would not expect them to. Jim agrees with this but points out that a Frenchman is a man, just like an Englishman, so it is not the same thing and they should speak the same language. Jim is adamant and Huck gives up.
These chapters describe the initial time that Huck and Jim spend on the raft. They improve the raft so it is quite comfortable and they establish a rhythm of moving down the river at night and hiding during the day. They enjoy each other's company and find that they both respect the quiet and solace of their life on the raft. They are absorbed into the natural environment and feel the freedom that neither can feel when interacting with society. The river is a place outside of society and they establish their own rules.
In chapters 12 and 13 they have their first "adventure" as they find themselves on a wrecked steamboat with a band of robbers. The contrast between Tom Sawyer's Gang and this band of robbers is evident and humorous. Tom puts together a gang and talks is very specific as to the proper order a gang should follow. Soon after Huck runs into this gang of robbers, which is genuine and is less concerned with style, more concerned with results. Huck realizes that a group of murderers is not the kind of group that he wants to be involved with and he soon tries to escape only to find that he and Jim are completely trapped. They seize on the opportunity to escape by taking the robbers' boat. Huck's natural compassion is demonstrated by his concern for the robbers. He lies to the watchman in order to help him, thus elaborating on the motif of lies and cons. At this moment, his lie is a moral thing to do as he does it in order to help some people in distress. He mentions that he wishes the widow could see him. The irony that he feels the widow would be proud of him lying demonstrates how he is beginning to understand that exactly following the guidelines society set out for him is not as important as doing what he feels is right. It is a step forward in his moral education, as he works to establish his own personal morality.
Huck and Jim's debate about royalty gives an insight into the differences in their personality. Jim in relation to Huck is much like Huck in relation to Tom; he points out the inconsistencies in logic that the other does not notice. Huck gives up arguing with Jim because he says that there is no point teaching him anything, when in fact it is not because Jim is stupid but because he is able to look at the situation from another angle. This is the same as when Huck suggests a perfectly viable solution to a problem only to have Tom reject it on account of style. Jim works from logic just as Huck does, but does not make the same assumptions as Huck, and consequently is able to spot the fallacies in his argument. The idea that he does not understand that French is a different language from English is comical, yet this forces Huck to try and explain only to find that he cannot adequately create an analogy that proves his point. Jim has different priorities and a slightly different logic from Huck, which shows the way that they are different, but equal.