The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Study Guide

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

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.

Chapter 30

Brief Summary

The king accuses Huck of trying to run off but Huck denies it. The duke scolds the king for being greedy and causing them to not only lose the inheritance but part of their money also. They each accuse each other of trying to steal the money from the other.

They get drunk and become friends again. Huck tells Jim about everything that had happened.

Detailed Summary

The king accuses Huck of trying to give them the slip, which Huck denies, explaining that he ran without thinking. The king is not convinced but the duke defends Huck. The duke and the king replay events and each accuses the other of stealing the money. Huck is uncomfortable because he thinks that they might make the connection that he was involved. They continue to blame each other and they each finally admit that they thought about stealing it from the other but did not actually go through with it.

The duke scolds the king for being so greedy and points out that because they stayed so long they came away with nothing. He criticizes his behavior in general, especially standing by while the slaves were blamed for stealing the money. He accuses him of wanting to get his hands on the money the duke earned from "The Royal Nonesuch." The king points out that it was the duke's idea to make up the difference with their own money but the duke ignores him.

They both begin drinking to make themselves feel better. They are soon drunk and once drunk are the best of friends again. When they are asleep, Huck sits down with Jim and tells him the entire story.

Chapter 31

Brief Summary

The king and the duke concoct a new secret plan, which makes Huck and Jim suspicious. When Huck is wandering with the duke, the king sells Jim to Silas Phelps. Huck returns and finds him gone. He thinks about the problem and eventually comes to the decision that he will try to help Jim escape.

He hides the raft on an island in the middle of the river and then goes to town where he accidentally runs into the duke. The duke gives him misinformation in order to divert Huck for three days. Huck knows that he will not see the duke again so he proceeds with his plan, making his way to the Phelpses' farm.

Detailed Summary

The group on the raft avoid going ashore for several days, afraid that the news might be following them. After a while they feel it is safe and the king and the duke discuss what they are going to do next. They try doing a lecture on temperance, a dancing school and missionary work. Nothing earns them any money and they grow despondent. One day they start discussing things quietly and Jim and Huck begin to suspect that they have a terrible new plan. When they reach the town of Pikesville, they hide the raft well and the king heads into town by himself. When he does not return, Huck and the duke follow after, knowing that the coast is clear. They find him in a bar, extremely drunk. The duke and the king begin to argue and Huck sneaks out. He heads back to the raft, alerting Jim that they should leave while they can. When he arrives, Jim is nowhere to be found. He sits and cries and then asks a boy passing by if he had seen a black man in the area. The boy tells him that he saw a runaway slave at Silas Phelps's place. He informs Huck that an old man had sold his share of the reward in exchange for $40.

Huck returns to the raft to think the situation over. He is dismayed that they came as far as they did to end like that. He thinks that it would be better for Jim to be a slave near his family than with strangers, so he should write a letter to Miss Watson. He thinks about how people would react if they knew his involvement. He goes back and forth, unsure of what to do. He tries to pray but cannot so he writes the letter and feels relieved. He thinks about the problem some more and realizes that all of his wonderful memories of Jim suggest that he should try to help Jim escape again. He decides, once and for all, that he is not going to send his letter and he is going to help Jim get his freedom.

He hides the raft on an island in the middle of the river and then goes to sleep. In the morning he puts on his best clothes and gathers a bundle of things. He hides the bundle in the woods near the Phelpses' place and walks into town. He runs into the duke who is hanging up signs for "The Royal Nonesuch." He talks to Huck, who asks where Jim and the raft have gone. The duke tells him that they sold him because they thought of him as their slave. Huck asks who the king sold Jim to and the duke gives him a fake name and false directions. He informs Huck that he and the king are planning to be in town for three days and warns him against turning them in. Huck is satisfied that the duke will not bother him anymore and he pretends to follow his directions. He then doubles back and heads to the Phelpses' farm.

Chapter 32

Brief Summary

Huck arrives at the Phelpses' farm without a plan. When he arrives he is welcomed in. The woman of the house tells him to call her Aunt Sally and when her husband returns home she surprises him, and Huck, by informing him that it is Tom Sawyer.

Shocked at his good fortune, Huck tells them all about the news from home. He is more comfortable but realizes that he needs to intercept Tom before he arrives.

Detailed Summary

The Phelpses' farm is a small, quaint cotton plantation. Huck arrives without any plan, hoping that something will lead him in the right direction. As he approaches the house, the dogs bark and a slave comes out shoos them away. The lady of the house comes out and is glad to see him. She hugs him and kisses him and calls the other children out to see their cousin Tom. She asks him what the delay was and he makes up a story about a blown cylinder head. She tells him to call her Aunt Sally. She asks for his baggage and he tells her that he left it behind. She asks him to tell her all about the family he left behind. He is unsure what to say but at that moment her husband, Silas comes home. She hides Huck and asks Silas if he had any luck finding the boy. He is worried and then she makes him look out the window. When his back is turned she pulls out Huck so he is standing there when Silas turns around again. He asks who it is and she tells him that it is Tom Sawyer.

Huck is shocked and excited. He tells them all about life back home and mentions all the news. He explains what happened on the boat and they listen attentively. Huck is pleased that he is in an easier position but at the same time worried what will happen with Tom arrives. He says that he will go to town to get his things, hoping that he will intercept Tom before he arrives at the farm.

Chapters 30-32 Analysis

This group of chapters begins with a decided turn for the worse. Huck and Jim do not manage to escape from the king and duke's company, though Huck does avoid being accused of stealing the inheritance money. Huck and Jim know that the two men are developing a new plan but they do not predict how awful it can be. Being without Jim places Huck in a position in which he must make a final decision about his role in Jim's escape. He is no longer going with whatever happens; he is in a position in which he must take action, whatever that might be.

This is a climatic moment in the book, as Huck decides what he is going to do. His protracted thought process covers all aspects of his dilemma. He imagines the effects of Miss Watson and how a letter from him is likely to be received. He considers a letter's efficacy for assuaging his guilt. He ponders the other side, thinking about how he would feel if he helped Jim escape. He remembers all of the moments he and Jim shared and reflects on what he has learned about Jim. Over the course of their friendship, Huck has had a glimpse into Jim's hopes and dreams, his regrets as a father and his devotion as a friend and his protectiveness of Huck. Anyone who would try to convince Huck that Jim does not have the same feelings as any other human being is confronted with a pile of evidence that is impossible to dismiss. Huck tries to persuade himself that what society teaches him is the right thing to do and that he should turn Jim in, yet in the end he realizes that society is simply wrong. He understands that though there might be consequences, nothing is as bad as going against one's word to someone who has been nothing but good and kind.

Huck's moral education reaches a significant point as he puzzles this out for himself. He is faced with the decision to go with or against society and he chooses to follow his own sense of right and wrong. In this way he demonstrates his maturity and honor as he shows respect for what really matters. His luck in ending up with people he knows, in a way, is the reward for his staying true to his natural self. It is almost as if by sheer will he manages to undo all the bad luck that the snakeskin continued to pile on Huck and Jim. He is able to use his position as an outsider to examine the situation from all angles and then take his role of outsider to the limit as he challenges one of his society's most entrenched institutions.

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