Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is Mark Twain’s masterpiece. The book is humorous and the author shines a revealing light on traditions that the South still followed at the time of its publication, which was after the Civil War. Huckleberry Finn is the main character and narrator, who is writing his story. Through him, the reader judges society on its faults and strengths. Huck’s buddy during his adventures is Jim, a runaway slave. The two share friendship and adventure as they travel down the Mississippi River on a raft.

At the start of the story, Huck tells the reader what has happened since The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. He describes the treasure found by the boys and how it was invested for them. Huck spends some time complaining about being cared for by the Widow Douglas and her sister, Miss Watson. He hates having to be on time, act politely, pray, and study.

Early in the story, Huck finds Pap’s distinctive boot prints in the snow and realizes his abusive father has returned. Huck "sells" his treasure to Judge Thatcher so that Pap can’t get it. Judge Thatcher and the Widow try to get custody of Huck, but a new judge won’t allow it and Pap kidnaps Huck and imprisons him. When Pap goes to town to drink, Huck fakes his own death and hides out on Jackson’s Island. He discovers that Miss Watson’s slave, Jim, is also hiding on the island. Jim has run away to avoid being sold. Huck and Jim join forces.

With the Mississippi rising, Huck and Jim explore a house floating by, finding some money and provisions. They also find a dead body that Jim realizes is Pap. He doesn’t tell Huck, however. Huck returns to town disguised as a girl and learns that both Jim and Pap are suspected in his apparent murder. Jim and Huck leave the island to avoid discovery. The two float downriver sharing stories and adventures. They head toward Cairo intending to take a steamship to a free state. In the middle of a deep fog, they pass Cairo.

A while later, a steamboat runs over their raft and Huck and Jim jump for their lives. Huck reaches shore and is taken in by the Grangerfords, a family involved in a feud with another family, the Shepherdsons. Huck finds Jim hiding in a swamp. After the feud erupts and the Grangerford men are killed, Huck and Jim take off again on a new raft.

Downriver, Huck finds two scam artists, the Duke and the King. They take control of the raft, cheating townspeople as they travel along. After making 400 dollars on a scam called the Royal Nonesuch, the scam artists invent a con to trick three orphaned girls out of their inheritance. They pretend to be the girls’ uncles and trick a large bag of gold from them. Huck steals the gold from the King and hides it in the girls’ father’s coffin. When their real uncles arrive, the Duke and King are challenged to prove their identities by describing a tattoo on the dead father’s chest. When the man is exhumed, the gold found, and the Duke and King proved wrong, Huck and Jim take off on the raft, with the Duke and King in hot pursuit.

Later, the Duke and King turn Jim in as a runaway slave. Huck finds Jim at, of all places, Tom Sawyer’s Aunt Sally’s house. Huck pretends to be Tom and, when Tom arrives, he pretends to be his brother, Sid. They find and release Jim, only to be chased by townspeople with guns. Tom gets shot in the leg. Huck leaves Tom and Jim in hiding to get a doctor. The doctor returns to town with Tom and Jim, in chains. Tom’s Aunt Polly turns up after hearing that Tom and Sid are both with her sister. She, of course, knows that Sid is with her. She informs the townspeople that Jim is a free man because the Widow freed him just before she passed away. Jim tells Huck that his Pap is dead, so he can return home. Huck turns down an offer from Aunt Polly to adopt him.

Huck concludes his story by saying he hadn’t realized how long it would take to write it down.

External Links

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - GNU FDL wiki which provided the start of this article. Includes full character and chapter summaries.