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 33

Brief Summary

Huck stops Tom, who is extremely surprised to see him. Huck briefly explains and asks for his help. Tom gives it immediately and Huck returns to the farm. Tom follows soon after, pretending to be a stranger. He then lets it slip that he is Sid Sawyer, Tom's half-brother, to the delight of his Aunt and Uncle Phelps. They talk about "The Royal Nonesuch," which is playing in town. Jim informed Silas the ploy behind it and the king and the duke are run out of town. Huck fills Tom in on all of his adventures.

Detailed Summary

When he is halfway to town he sees Tom's wagon in the distance. He stops him and Tom is shocked to see Huck. Tom immediately wants to hear all about what happened with the fake murder and everything after that but Huck puts him off. He explains that he is in a fix, pretending to be him. Tom is not bothered and is happy to help. He instructs Huck to take his baggage and pretend its his. Tom plans to arrive a while after Huck. Huck then informs Tom that his real purpose is to free Jim, who is being held by Aunt Sally and Uncle Silas. Tom thinks about it and then agrees to help Huck help Jim escape. Huck is surprised but happy that he has help.

They put their plan into action. Huck goes back, arriving much sooner than he should have. Tom arrives after and everyone is pleased to have a stranger visit. Tom asks for Archibald Nichols; Uncle Silas invites him in, telling him that he is at the wrong house but invites him for dinner. Everyone sits and talks until Tom gets up and kisses Aunt Sally. She is appalled and Tom eventually lets it slip that he is Sid Sawyer, Tom's half-brother. Everyone is delighted to see him and laugh at the trick that he played.

Everything is set for Huck, since he and Tom are meant to share the same room and everyone is happy with having both of them there. The talk about "The Royal Nonesuch," and Uncle Silas mentions that Jim told him about how it was a fraud. That night they find out that the duke and the king were run out of town. Huck tells Tom about all of his adventures.

Chapter 34

Brief Summary

Tom figures out where Jim is being kept and they think about ways to get him out. Huck offers suggestions that are useful and straightforward but Tom dismisses them as too easy and not time-consuming enough. When they look in the shed connected to the shack and find that it has a dirt floor, Tom decides that they will dig Jim out.

They follow the man who is in charge of Jim. When Huck and Tom look in, Jim excitedly says hello to them before Huck and Tom can stop him. They then convince the caretaker that he did not hear anything. Extremely superstitious, he informs Huck and Tom that he has been bothered by witches lately. Huck and Tom tell Jim that they are working to get him out and the caretaker lets them know that they can return any time that they like because it is good to have people around.

Detailed Summary

Tom figures out where Jim is being kept, as he has seen food being taken to a small shack at the back of the property. Tom suggests that they each come up with a plan for setting Jim free and they would follow the one that was best. Huck's plan involves stealing the key out of Uncle Silas's trousers and canoeing Jim over to where he hid the raft. Then they could continue down the river as they did before. Tom agrees that Huck's plan would work but criticizes it for being too simple. His plan is far more complex, though he knows that the details will change. Huck concurs that it is a good plan but he still cannot believe that Tom would actually help him set Jim free. Tom assures him that he knows what he is doing and makes Huck promise not to mention it again.

They investigate, looking the cabin over. There is a window and Huck mentions that they could wrench it open and Jim would crawl out. Tom dismisses the idea as too easy. Huck then suggests that they saw him out. Tom commends him for having more creativity, though he does think that there are other ways that would take more time. They look in the shed that is attached to the shack. The floor is dirt and Tom decides that they should dig Jim out.

In the morning they follow the man who is in charge of feeding Jim. He offers to let them see who it is in the shack. When Huck and Tom look in, Jim excitedly says hello to them before Huck and Tom can stop him. They then convince the caretaker that he did not hear anything. Extremely superstitious, he informs Huck and Tom that he has been bothered by witches lately. He is concerned that he did not hear anything and he leaves Huck and Tom with Jim for a moment. They tell Jim that they are going to get him out and to wait for further instructions. The man returns and tells them that they can return whenever they want because he likes to have people around.

Chapter 35

Brief Summary

Tom tries to make Jim's escape more difficult and complicated, like the adventure stories he reads. Huck continues to consider the realities of the problem, hoping to get Jim out quickly. Tom insists that they follow his plan and Huck goes along with it. He lectures Huck about stealing a watermelon but encourages the theft of things that will help their plan. Tom finally admits that they will just have to pretend that it is going to take them a long time rather than trying to make Jim's escape last.

Detailed Summary

Tom complains that getting Jim out is going to be too easy. There is no watchman and that all they have to do is lift the bed and he is free of his chain. Tom is frustrated that he is going to have to invent all the difficulties but he declares that he will do his best to make it complicated. He tells Huck that they have to get a saw in order to cut the bed off so Jim can get free. Huck points out that Tom just mentioned that all one has to do is lift up the bed. Tom is exasperated and asks him if he has ever read anything about people like Casanova or any other adventure stories. He explains that it is just not done in that way. Escapes are complicated, lingering affairs. To allow Jim to escape easily would be to rob the situation of its dramatic potential.

He describes the way that the leg must be sawed before one escapes via rope ladder. Huck points out that Jim does not need a rope ladder and Tom insists that it is part of regulations. Huck acquiesces but makes the suggestion that they use a hickory bark ladder so as not to anger Aunt Sally by ripping up her sheets. Tom will not accept the compromise. He informs Huck that Jim must also keep a journal on a shirt and make messages on the bottom of tin plates, which he must throw out the window. Tom and Huck argue about the particulars; Huck tries to get Tom to be sensible and Tom asserts that they need to do things properly.

After breakfast they begin gathering what they need for Jim's escape. Tom lectures Huck about stealing unnecessarily when Huck "borrows" a watermelon. Tom explains that they only steal what is important for freeing Jim. Tom then informs Huck that they will be digging Jim out with case-knives rather than with picks and a shovel. Huck is worried that it will take too long. Tom concedes this point and suggests that they go ahead and dig and then pretend that it took a long time. Huck finally understands and agrees that it is a brilliant plan.

Chapters 33-35 Analysis

These chapters begin the final stage of the narrative, in which Tom and Huck join forces in order to try and free Jim. Huck is at first surprised to have Tom's enthusiastic help, feeling that as an entrenched member of society, Tom would be unwilling to work for Jim's escape. This demonstrates the way in which Huck feels that he is an outsider and it is for this reason that he is able to see Jim as something other than a slave. This is knowledge that Huck understands other people must not have. For him, Tom is a part of the society that he left behind and this is why he does not expect his aid. Though he has changed his mind about what is right and wrong, society has stayed the same and he is wary of trying to interact with it again. Huck is solely concerned with getting Jim out safely and he recognizes the seriousness of the situation. It is a matter for which Huck is ready to go to hell for and so he is most interested in its success.

Tom is drawn to the situation for its possibilities for adventure. It is a prime case for his imagination. He immediately sees the way in which it can be entertaining for him, so he agrees to be a part of it. There is a moment in which he almost slips and tells Huck that Jim has already been freed, information that Tom has going into his charade of working to free Jim. Huck is unaware and he blindly follows Tom's lead. Tom knows that there is no need to go to the trouble but he feels that it will be fun, so he proceeds. He is concerned only with his own entertainment. He is privileged in the ways that Huck is not. He has grown up with a family and is a regular member of society, even though his mischievousness causes problems. Since he is a solid, accepted part of society he feels at liberty to entertain himself in whatever way he wishes. In this case, as it often is, he finds pleasure in pretending to be an outsider. He makes a game out of Huck and Jim's normal lives. He takes the seriousness of the situation and tries to turn it on its head for his own amusement. He is self-centered and dangerously toys with matters that he lacks the maturity to understand. His ideas are a mixture of the adventure novels he has read and Sunday School manners; he lectures Huck on stealing food, but encourages him to take items that they need for his extravagant plan. He tries to uphold society's laws while simultaneously playing tricks on all those around him.

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