The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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Huckleberry Finn Character Analysis

The boy-narrator of the novel, Huck is the son of a vicious town drunk who has been adopted into normal society by the Widow Douglass after the events of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. In his love for freedom, Huck rebels both against his father Pap’s debauchery and its seeming opposite, a sternly straight-laced but hypocritical society. Wise beyond his years, cleverly practical but nonetheless supremely humane, Huck defies societal conventions by befriending the black slave Jim while travelling with him on their raft and whom, as Huck matures, he comes to see as his equal. Huck’s maturation is impeded, though, by his respectable and bright but boyishly self-indulgent friend, Tom Sawyer.

Huckleberry Finn Quotes in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn quotes below are all either spoken by Huckleberry Finn or refer to Huckleberry Finn. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Slavery and Racism Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dover Publications edition of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn published in 1994.
Chapter 1 Quotes

You don’t know about me, without you have read a book by the name of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” but that ain’t no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth.

Related Characters: Huckleberry Finn (speaker), Tom Sawyer
Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Huckleberry Finn introduces himself to us at the beginning of the novel that bears his name. Huck really does appear as a character in a book called The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and his mentioning the fact makes Huck all the more real to us as readers. He's more than just a character on the page – he's someone who exists outside of the books he's in. Huck's reality is also brought home to us by his speech, which is not in "literary language but firmly cast in the American vernacular, the way people really speak. It is at once conversational, gritty, and lilting. 

This quote also introduces the ideas of truth in the novel. What does it mean to tell the truth? Is there such a thing as a noble lie? Huck himself lies all the time, sometimes just to keep in practice! In the Southern pre-Civil War society in which Huck lives, dangerous opinions and beliefs are often presented dogmatically as truths, most centrally that blacks like Jim are inferior to whites. In such a society, stretching the truth and telling lies are tools Huck uses to be free – just as Twain writes books about things that aren't factually true, but which nonetheless promote human freedom. Huck's probably pretty tolerant of the stretchers Mark Twain told when writing his book. 

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The Widow Douglas, she took me for her son, and allowed she would sivilize me; but it was rough living in the house all the time, considering how dismal regular and decent the widow was in all her ways; and so when I couldn’t stand it no longer, I lit out.

Related Characters: Huckleberry Finn (speaker), The Widow Douglas and Miss Watson
Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:

At the end of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Huck became rich, but his riches hardly made him free. The Widow Douglas adopted him to "sivilize" him – in other words, to raise him so that he conforms to social rules and traditions.

However, as Huck's misspelling of "sivilzie" would suggest, he wants nothing to do with what he experiences as the dismal regularity and suffocating decency that society has to offer. He is too lively and freedom-loving for that, and already he intuits that what society holds up as good and moral can actually be offensive and oppressive to the human spirit. Huck will soon return to Widow Douglas's care, however, when prompted by Tom Sawyer. At this early point in the novel, Huck is still too immersed in the rigid logic of society to truly break free.

So here Huck's lighting out, or leaving, is something of a false start. It won't be until the end of the novel that Huck knows himself well enough to know what freedom really is. In this sense, the novel is a Bildungsroman, or a novel about growing up and spiritual education. 

Chapter 3 Quotes

I went and told the Widow about it, and she said the thing a body could get by praying for it was “spiritual gifts.” This was too much for me, but she told me what she means—I must help others, and do everything I could for other people, and look out for them all the time, and never think about myself…but I couldn’t see no advantage about it—except for the other people—so at last I reckoned I wouldn’t worry about it any more, but just let it go.

Related Characters: Huckleberry Finn (speaker), The Widow Douglas and Miss Watson
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:

As part of being "sivilized," Huck is given a religious education in which he's instructed to pray. However, he gets mixed messages on this point. Miss Watson, for one, tells him to pray for whatever he wants, but Huck soon realizes we only very rarely get what we pray for. The Widow Douglas betters Miss Watson's instructions, and says that people can't get the material things they want through prayer, only "spiritual gifts." That Miss Watson and the Widow disagree suggests that religious truth is not self-evident and absolute, but dependent on interpretation. 

Huck is too practical to have much use for spiritual gifts, however. We might say that he is self-sufficient, that he has everything he needs inside of himself already. Moreover, Huck comes to think that serving others and acting selflessly isn't all it's cracked up to be: people who constantly serve society become bound by society's customs and sacrifice their freedom. Ironically, it is the untamed, unchristian Huck who develops the richest, most loving relationship in the novel, with Jim. The Christianity of the Widow and Miss Watson doesn't exactly practice what it preaches.

Chapter 5 Quotes

“And looky here—you drop that school, you hear? I’ll learn people to bring up a boy to put on airs over his own father and let on to be better’n what he is.”

Related Characters: Pap (speaker), Huckleberry Finn
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

The Widow sends Huck to school, but when Huck's biological father, Pap, comes back to town, the greasy old man opposes his son receiving an education. Why? Because Pap resents the fact that Huck is breaking with the family tradition of ignorance and, more to the point, that Huck is "put[ting] on airs" over him, that is, acting like his own father's social superior.

Pap talks like Huck, he seems to live freely outside the bounds of society like Huck, but he couldn't be more different. While Huck is an authentic free spirit, Pap is just as committed to maintaining rigid social structures as the Widow Douglas is. He wants the ignorant to remain ignorant – especially if they're related to him. More broadly, he wants to maintain his social position, low as it is, by ensuring that all those lower than him on the social hierarchy stay lower. In contrasting Huck and Pap, Twain suggests that living a wild life like Pap doesn't make one free at all. (Indeed, Pap is enslaved to his alcoholism.) Rather, freedom involves an ability to see through the falsehoods of society and a commitment to the humanity of others.

The novel as a whole advances a vision far more democratic than Pap's. It believes in a world of social mobility, where people like Huck can become educated and where people like Jim can rise out of slavery into freedom.

The judge he felt kind of sore. He said he reckoned a body could reform the ole man [Pap] with a shot-gun maybe, but he didn’t know no other way.

Related Characters: Huckleberry Finn (speaker), Pap, The new judge
Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:

After Pap gets outrageously drunk and is jailed, the new judge vows to reform him – but Pap is debauched beyond reform. He takes advantage of the judge's hospitality, gets drunk, consequently falls, breaks his arm, and almost freezes to death. This quote gives the new judge's response.

On the one hand, the new judge represents the decent regularity that society stands for, and of which Huck Finn is rightly wary. It is the failure of this society, and the social pressure it creates, that lead to people like Pap sinking into wretchedness in the first place. A society that produces people like Pap, and which can't help such people, is a society in need of reform.

On the other hand, the judge, despite making a mistake in granting Pap custody of Huck, has gone above and beyond in giving Pap a room in his house. His quip about the shotgun is kind of funny and endearing. The novel may disagree with his rigid upholding of custom and tradition, but it nonetheless reveals the new judge's humanity. It is this kind of careful, tender artistry that constitutes the novel's freedom.

Chapter 8 Quotes

“People will call me a low down Abolitionist and despise me for keeping mum—but that don’t make no difference. I ain’t agoing to tell, and I ain’t agoing back there anyways.”

Related Characters: Huckleberry Finn (speaker), Jim
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:

Huck and Jim stumble into one another on Jackson's Island after Huck escapes from Pap and after Jim escapes from his owner Miss Watson. However, Jim is at first reticent about his escape, because he's afraid that Huck will turn him in. Huck responds with this quote.

In the pre-Civil War America of Huck and Jim's time, Abolitionism was a movement that agitated for the immediate end of slavery in the country. The movement was largely based in the North, and most white Southerners like those featured in Twain's novel denounced Abolitionism as fostering disorder and slave rebellions. Huck, however, doesn't care if he's associated with Abolitionism and despised for it; he does what he thinks is right, even if it flies in the face of social interests. When he says, "I ain't agoing back there anyways," he is at once being literal and metaphorical – he is not going to return to "civilization," nor is he going to return to the frame of mind it sponsors. 

Note, however, that Huck wrestles with racism throughout the novel, not just in his society but in himself. He knows and loves Jim for who Jim is, and therefore don't turn him in; but it will take more spiritual education before he more firmly resists and more squarely turns his back on racist patterns of thinking.

Chapter 13 Quotes

I begun to think how dreadful it was, even for murderers, to be in such a fix. I says to myself, there ain’t no telling but I might come to be a murderer myself, yet, and then how would I like it?

Related Characters: Huckleberry Finn (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Mississippi River
Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:

One night during a storm, Huck and Jim encounter three robbers in a steamboat. Huck and Jim manage to survive the storm, but the robbers are trapped. Here, Huck sympathizes with the three doomed men, and tries to think up ways to save them, but to no avail.

Most characters in the novel are so judgmental and self-righteous that they'd probably be glad that the criminals meet an untimely death. Huck, however, has a much larger imagination and a much freer spirit than most other characters; he can see the murderers as real people with real fears, not just as abstract undesirable elements in society. It is this capacity of Huck's that gives him his charm as well as his spiritual backbone; it is this capacity, also, that enables Huck to see how inhuman an institution slavery is. 

Most people rely on scapegoats to feel good about themselves (think of the mob that assembles to lynch Colonel Sherburn in Chapter 22). They need people to judge and condemn and punish as a means of venting their own antisocial aggression. Huck does not need a scapegoat. He knows that a single human spirit is big enough to hold both the saint and the murderer at the same time, even if it's unpleasant to think about for most of us. But being able to acknowledge our own capacity for evil paradoxically makes us more merciful – or at least that's what Huck's experience suggests.

Chapter 14 Quotes

Well, he [Jim] was right; he was most always right; he had an uncommon level head, for a nigger.

Related Characters: Huckleberry Finn (speaker), Jim
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:

The morning after their encounter with the robbers during the storm, Huck refers to it all as an "adventure." Jim says he doesn't want any more adventures, because he could easily have been harmed. Huck thinks this is pretty level-headed of Jim.

Huck is divided between two influences, that of Tom Sawyer and that of Jim. Tom is fantastical, self-serving, reckless – the kind of person who would take any adventures that come his way. Jim, in contrast, is realistic, sensitive to other people's wants and needs, and therefore careful. In this quote, we see Huck acknowledge the rightness of Jim's perspective, the level-headedness of it. This is a sign that Huck is growing up.

This growing up on Huck's part coincides with a change in Huck's perception of Jim. Huck absorbed his society's prejudice in thinking blacks intellectually inferior to whites, but his experience with Jim is corroding this prejudice. That being said, the qualification "for a nigger" is blatantly racist; Huck is still bound at this point in the novel to society's way of looking at the world and at Jim.

Chapter 15 Quotes

“My heart wuz mos’ broke bekase you wuz los’, en I didn’t k’yer no mo’ what become er me en de raf’. En when I wake up en fine you back agin’, all safe en soun’, de tears come en I could a got down on my knees en kiss’ yo’ foot I’s so thankful. En all you wuz thinkin ‘bout wuz how you could make a fool uv ole Jim wid a lie.”

Related Characters: Jim (speaker), Huckleberry Finn
Related Symbols: The Raft
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:

A fog sets in on the Mississippi River as Jim and Huck make for the Ohio, and the two are separated. When reunited, Huck plays a trick in the style of Tom Sawyer on Jim: you dreamed the fog, he says. Jim figures out Huck's trick, however, and responds with this quote.

Huck's trick demonstrates both his childish egocentricity and his racist callousness toward Jim, whom he as yet thinks incapable, perhaps, of the full range of human feeling. Jim's response proves just how ignorant Huck's attitude is. Jim loves Huck deeply – perhaps more deeply than anyone else in the world does. Jim is not selfish like Huck can be either: the raft, Jim's vessel to freedom, means less to him than Huck does. Huck's lies are often charming – and he lies just to stay in practice, as he says – but here he lies without thinking of the consequences of doing so. 

This episode draws a great deal of its power from the fact that Jim has been ripped away from his family by slaveholders. If his heart breaks at the thought of losing Huck, it must have been shattered by that loss – even though many whites at the time of the story deny that blacks are fully human and capable of heartbreak. Twain's novel, in contrast, insists on the full humanity of all of its characters, and in this way his art imitates life and serves as a rebuke to the aspects of American society that continue to believe in white superiority at the time he wrote the novel and even today.

It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a nigger—but I done it, and I warn’t ever sorry for it afterwards, neither.

Related Characters: Huckleberry Finn (speaker), Jim
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:

Huck tricks Jim into thinking the two were never separated by a fog that settled on the Mississippi River, and Jim shames Huck for playing such a callous trick. Huck, albeit reluctantly, humbles himself and apologizes to Jim.

In Huck's society, a white person didn't need to treat a black person like a human being, much less apologize. Consequently, in his racist pride, Huck is reluctant to apologize to Jim for wronging him – but Huck is also very different from most other whites in his society, and he recognizes that he really did wrong Jim, and that Jim was right to shame him for it, and that an apology is the only decent thing he can do at this point. Huck recognizes in his heart Jim's inalienable humanity, despite all of the prejudices he's absorbed. 

Huck says he "warn't ever sorry" for apologizing to Jim, which suggests the he expected to regret doing so. His experience is shattering his expectations, and his experience is therefore his most important teacher when it comes to understanding the iniquity of the world he lives in.

Chapter 16 Quotes

Jim said it made him all over trembly and feverish to be so close to freedom. Well, I can tell you it made me all over trembly and feverish, too, to hear him, because I begun to get it through my head that he was most free—and who was to blame for it? Why, me.

Related Characters: Huckleberry Finn (speaker), Jim
Page Number: 66
Explanation and Analysis:

As Huck and Jim drift on their raft toward Cairo, Ohio, and the free states up North, Jim becomes very excited, and so does Huck, although for very different reasons. Jim is joyous to be almost free, while Huck dreads the idea of having helped a black man escape from bondage.

Huck's spiritual education is not without regressions back into the toxic attitudes and beliefs of the racist society around him. This is one such regression. Even though Huck has recognized that Jim is wholly human, and though he is Jim's friend (whether he would admit it or not at this point), he nonetheless can't help but see himself through society's eyes. What he sees is a person who helped a slave illegally escape from his owner, someone who is blameworthy in the eyes of other whites. This makes Huck anxious, but only because he does not yet have the courage of his convictions. 

Another characteristic of the racist worldview is that whites are the actors in the world, the people who make things happen, while blacks are passive, objects to be acted on and incapable of self-determination. Huck displays that trait here when he asks "who was to blame" for Jim's freedom. He acts as though he singlehandedly freed Jim, as though Jim has no responsibility for his freedom because, being black, he couldn't actively achieve it for himself. This, of course, is a fallacy: Jim is capable of self-determination, and was the actor who effected his own escape. 

So I reckoned I wouldn’t bother no more about [right and wrong], but after this always do whichever comes handiest at the time.

Related Characters: Huckleberry Finn (speaker)
Page Number: 69
Explanation and Analysis:

Huck feels guilty about being an accessory in Jim's escape to the free states, but reasons that he would feel just as guilty had he not helped Jim escape. This leads him to conclude that conscience is not really a firm means of determining what is right, and that one therefore would do better to "do whichever comes handiest at the time."

This is an important realization for Huck, and a new height in his spiritual education. His new ethic of handiness can be summarized like this: whatever his heart tells him to do instinctually, Huck resolves to do. He is free, in this way, to be himself. Conscience reflects the society around it, which is for the worse, in Huck's case, because his society fabricates its moral rules to justify the unjustifiable evils of slavery. The heart, on the other hand, is more primordial and innate than the conscience: it is not a social construct, but the oldest and best part of ourselves. Conveniently, it is also the handiest for someone like Huck. 

Note that doing what is handiest, for Huck, does not license him to do wrong on a whim. This is because Huck has a fundamentally good heart, such that needlessly inflicting harm on others is alien to it, something that would never present itself as handy. 

Chapter 18 Quotes

“Did you want to kill [the Shepherdson], Buck?”
“Well, I bet I did.”
“What did he do to you?”
“Him? He never done nothing to me.”
“Well, then, what did you want to kill him for?”
“Why nothing—only it’s on account of the feud.”

Related Characters: Huckleberry Finn (speaker), The Grangerfords and Shepherdsons (speaker)
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:

One day while Huck and Buck Grangerford are hunting, Harney Shepherdson rides by and Buck tries to shoot him. In this dialogue, Huck attempts to understand Buck's motives.

The Grangerfords and Shepherdsons have a long-standing feud. Buck is not clear on how the feud began, nor does he have anything other than an abstract hatred for the Shepherdson's. He himself doesn't seem wholly committed to the feud yet. "I bet I did [want to kill Harney]" sounds faintly noncommittal. Moreover, the explanation he gives for shooting at Harney relies on absurdly circular reasoning. It reduces to: There's a feud because there's a feud, which of course doesn't explain anything. But this is a vicious circle, because as soon as Buck engages in the feud, the Shepherdsons have good reason to shoot at him, and he in turn has good reason to shoot right back. The feud, which falls out of thin air into Buck's lap, can only end in bloodshed. This is an enormous waste of life.

In a sense, the Grangerford-Shepherdson feud is a metaphor for how society can corrupt people who are essentially good. Being raised on hatred makes one, of course, hateful, just as being raised in a racist society makes one racist. The novel points out the tragic absurdity of such situations, and it offers an alternative to such negative socialization through Huck's education, which is based not on passively received notions of what is right or wrong but rather on personal experience and the call of one's own heart.

Chapter 19 Quotes

For what you want, above all things, on a raft, is for everybody to be satisfied, and feel right and kind towards others.

Related Characters: Huckleberry Finn (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Raft
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:

When the duke and king join Huck and Jim on the raft, they are at first sour with one another, but soon make up. This prompts Huck to reflect on what society on the raft should look like.

Huck's experiences have inevitably led him to reflect on what a good society looks like. After all, by this point in the novel, he's met with slaveowners, murderers, and mindlessly feuding families. For there to be a hope for a good life, he thinks, people need to be satisfied and kind towards one another. In other words, people need to have their basic needs for food and the like met, and they need to treat one another kindly as individuals, rather than as abstract elements in social categories. This may seem obvious to us – but if it's so obvious, why don't more people abide by it? 

The raft becomes the novel's symbol for a good society. It is in touch with nature, open to experience, and freely mobile. Jim and Huck, in turn, are the novel's vision of ideal citizens: people who are not only equals but also friends.

Chapter 23 Quotes

I do believe [Jim] cared just as much for his people as white folks does for their’n. It don’t seem natural, but I reckon it’s so.

Related Characters: Huckleberry Finn (speaker), Jim
Page Number: 117
Explanation and Analysis:

Huck's adventure on the raft becomes rollicking and exuberant once the duke and king join up with him and Jim – so much so that Huck doesn't keep in mind Jim's plight. One morning, however, he wakes to find Jim mourning for his wife and children, from whom he's been separated. This quote gives Huck's reaction.

Earlier in the novel, Huck sees through his racist prejudices and recognizes that Jim can be hurt by cruel jokes and have his heart broken by loss like anyone else. However, Huck does not seem to recognize till now that Jim is capable of loving his own family as much as white people are. This error in empathy is challenged by experience, however, when he finds Jim in mourning here.

The big irony of this passage is that there's nothing more natural in the world than that people should love their family members. Huck, however, has been raised to think it unnatural for a black husband and father to care so deeply for his wife and children. Culture teaches us what to think of as natural or unnatural, and it is so effective in this – in Huck's case insidiously so – that we can become blind to what is self-evident and deaf to what our hearts tell us.

Chapter 31 Quotes

“All right, then, I’ll go to hell”—and [I] tore [my note to Miss Watson] up.

Related Characters: Huckleberry Finn (speaker)
Page Number: 162
Explanation and Analysis:

When Jim is turned in by the king for being a runaway slave, Huck thinks for a moment that the only moral thing to do would be to write a letter to Miss Watson so that she can reclaim her human property. However, Huck reflects on how good Jim is, and resolves at last to help him reach freedom no matter what; he tears up his note.

The decision represented in this quote is the major turning point in Huck's spiritual education. At the beginning of the novel, he thinks that hell would be more interesting than heaven, anyway – but here he goes a giant step further and realizes that what society thinks of as heaven is just rigid rule-following without much of a basis in what's right, and that choosing hell is not about indulging oneself. It is about living a good and loving life, regardless of what society dictates. Huck and Jim's friendship is the most sacred thing in the novel, and embracing it over all ingrained prejudice and cowardly conformity is Huck's crowning moment.

Chapter 33 Quotes

I’m bound to say Tom Sawyer fell, considerable, in my estimation. Only I couldn’t believe it. Tom Sawyer a nigger stealer!

Related Characters: Huckleberry Finn (speaker), Tom Sawyer
Page Number: 171
Explanation and Analysis:

Huck and Tom meet up near the Phelps's farm and, after hearing that Huck plans to rescue Jim, Tom agrees to join in the attempt. Huck thinks less of Tom for helping him, because doing so flies in the face of the racist, slaveholding values of their society.

This passage is troubling. Huck has just decided to save Jim, society be damned, and then he judges Tom's decision to help him from the absurd perspective of the society he's just cast off. Can Huck really be so divided in his soul that he can decide to rescue Jim, only to judge someone negatively for doing the same? This is either a considerable regression on Huck's part, a moment of reflexive thinking that doesn't reflect how he really feels, an irony on Huck's part, or a mistake on the author's. The second of these interpretations is perhaps most charitable to the novel (though many critics would argue that this final section of the novel is its weakest, and that Twain in fact did make a mistake in this entire escapade with Huck and Tom trying to free Jim).

Tom's reasons for joining the rescue attempt are very different from Huck's. Huck loves Jim. Tom thinks it would be a fun adventure to play rescue. This suggests Tom's childishness, but something more troubling. Tom treats himself like the hero of a drama and Jim like a prop. This is just a refinement of how his society sees Jim as an object to be used by whites.

I was sorry for them poor pitiful rascals, it seems like I couldn’t ever feel any hardness against them any more in the world. It was a dreadful thing to see. Human beings can be awful cruel to one another.

Related Characters: Huckleberry Finn (speaker), The duke and king
Page Number: 174
Explanation and Analysis:

Huck learns that the duke and king are staging their scandalous show near the Phelps' farm, and he at once sets out to warn the con men that their gig is up. He's too late, though. On the way, he sees that a mob has tarred and feathered the duke and king; Huck pities the two immensely.

Tarring and feathering was an especially painful and humiliating punishment, common in the United States as a type of mob vengeance. Offenders were stripped to the waist, covered in scalding tar, and then covered in feathers which stuck to the tar. They were then paraded around to be humiliated, as the duke and king are. Punishments like these are one of the ways a society enforces conformity to its standards, regardless of whether or not those standards are just. As dreadful as the duke and king are, the people who tar and feather them are just as dreadful.

Huck, who knows just how exploitative the duke and king are, is nonetheless so empathetic that he pities them. As he sees it, nobody should be so cruelly abused – for such punishments amount merely to cruelty, not to justice. It is one of Huck's great characteristics to be in such a cruel world, and to know it, and yet retain his sensitivity and gentleness and kind-heartedness.

Chapter 43 Quotes

But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me and I can’t stand it. I been there before.

Related Characters: Huckleberry Finn (speaker), Sally and Silas Phelps
Page Number: 220
Explanation and Analysis:

This quote comes at the very end of the novel. Jim is free; Tom has healed from his wounds after taking part in Jim's rescue; it has been revealed that Jim had been freed by Miss Watson two months earlier; and Huck is once again in danger of being "sivilized," as he was by the Widow Douglas at the beginning of the novel.

Huck couldn't stand being civilized then, but he soon got used to it. After all, for Huck civilization meant merely dressing nicely and praying. However, he's changed a great deal over the course of his adventures. He's seen how hypocritical society is, and how social customs, traditions, norms, and beliefs – those things we absorb by being "sivilized" – often mask injustice and promote violence. When he says he can't stand being civilized this time, he really means it, because he fully understands what exactly it is he is rejecting when he says no to "sivilizing." He is rejecting the Southern society that relies on racism, slavery, and mob violence – all hypocritically in the name of order and tradition. 

Huck literally plans to be a pioneer and "light out for the Territory," that is, the parts of the western United States that haven't been settled yet, where society hasn't spread. But he will also metaphorically light out for the Territory in this sense: he will strive to be intellectually and imaginatively free, never settling a matter in his mind for good, always retaining an openness to new experiences. This is the great freedom that Huck at last comes to embody.

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Huckleberry Finn Character Timeline in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The timeline below shows where the character Huckleberry Finn appears in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Society and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
Huck introduces himself as a character from Mark Twain’s earlier novel, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.”... (full context)
Society and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Religion and Superstition Theme Icon
After Huck returned to the Widow Douglas, she wept, dressed Huck in new clothes that made him... (full context)
Society and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
The Widow Douglas forbade Huck from smoking in the house as well. Huck points out that the Widow condones useless... (full context)
Society and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Religion and Superstition Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
Meanwhile, the Widow Douglas’s sister, Miss Watson, teaches Huck how to spell, critiques his posture, and tells him about Heaven and Hell. Wanting a... (full context)
Religion and Superstition Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
After Huck’s talk with Miss Watson, Huck goes up to his bedroom. He sits, tries to think... (full context)
Chapter 2
Slavery and Racism Theme Icon
Religion and Superstition Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
As Huck and Tom Sawyer sneak away from the Widow Douglas’s house, Huck trips and makes a... (full context)
Religion and Superstition Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
Despite Huck’s protests, Tom takes some candles from the Widow Douglas’s kitchen, leaving five cents in payment,... (full context)
Society and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Tom and Huck meet up with some other boys, and, after a short excursion, end up in a... (full context)
Society and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
...but can’t do it on Sunday because that would be wicked. The Gang disperses, and Huck returns home. (full context)
Chapter 3
Society and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Religion and Superstition Theme Icon
After Huck returns home, Miss Watson scolds him for having dirtied his clothes. The Widow Douglas does... (full context)
Religion and Superstition Theme Icon
Huck recounts how he sat down, one time, in the back of the woods and thought... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Huck thinks about his father Pap, who hadn’t been seen for more than a year, which... (full context)
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Huck turns to thinking about Tom Sawyer’s Gang. They played robber for about a month, before... (full context)
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One time, Huck goes on to recount, Tom summoned the Gang and told them about a large group... (full context)
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After calling Huck a “numskull” for thinking that the Sunday school picnic was just that, Tom explains to... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Three or four months pass since the Gang’s raid on the Sunday school. Huck has been going to school and learning reading, writing, and arithmetic, though he “don’t take... (full context)
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One morning, Huck overturns a saltcellar at breakfast. To ward off bad luck, he reaches for the spilt... (full context)
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Huck nervously makes his way to Judge Thatcher’s house. The judge tells Huck that the six... (full context)
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Huck goes on to tell how Jim has a hairball, taken from the belly of an... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Huck is scared at first to see the old, greasy, pale Pap sitting in his room... (full context)
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Pap tells Huck that he hears that Huck is rich now, but Huck says that he doesn’t have... (full context)
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The next day, Pap is drunk and tries to coerce Judge Thatcher into giving him Huck’s fortune, but the Judge refuses. Afterward, Judge Thatcher and the Widow go to a court... (full context)
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Pap is pleased with the court’s custody ruling. He threatens to beat Huck “black and blue” unless Huck raises money for him. Huck borrows three dollars from Judge... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Pap continues to harass Judge Thatcher for Huck’s money, and he harasses Huck for not stopping school. Huck goes to school nevertheless, with... (full context)
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...the Widow’s estate too much, the Widow reprimands him. Pap vows to show her who Huck’s boss is, so one day he kidnaps Huck and takes him to an isolated log... (full context)
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Huck comes to like the “lazy and jolly” life he leads with Pap, the smoking and... (full context)
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However, Pap eventually begins to beat Huck so often and so severely that Huck, covered with welts, can no longer stand the... (full context)
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...in a bad mood when he comes in. He rants that his lawsuit to get Huck’s money is proceeding too slowly, and that it looks as though the Widow and Judge... (full context)
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After Huck loads the skiff, he and Pap sit down to dinner, during which Pap becomes drunk.... (full context)
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...up rolling around in the dirt. After supper, Pap gets his jug of whiskey, and Huck predicts that he will be very drunk by the end of the night, at which... (full context)
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After some time passes, Pap jumps up “looking wild,” and he goes after Huck with a knife, calling him the Angel of Death. Huck tells Pap that he’s not... (full context)
Chapter 7
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Pap wakes Huck, who fell asleep in the night, and asks him what he’s doing with the gun.... (full context)
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After Huck returns to shore, Pap berates him for taking so long with the fish. Huck lies... (full context)
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Pap and Huck collect nine logs from the river to sell and then eat dinner. Pap is content... (full context)
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Huck takes Pap’s gun into the nearby woods, kills a hog, and takes the hog back... (full context)
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As Huck waits for the moon to come out so that he can travel by its light,... (full context)
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Huck hears a sound. It is Pap paddling back to the cabin. Huck loses no time... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Huck wakes and takes in his surroundings, like a couple squirrels, Huck says, that “jabbered at... (full context)
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Huck thinks that the Widow or parson must have prayed for a loaf of bread to... (full context)
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Huck hides behind a long near the island’s shore to observe the ferry as it passes.... (full context)
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Huck makes a tent, catches a catfish to eat, and puts in more fishing lines to... (full context)
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Suddenly, Huck hears the sound of horses and human voices. He shoves out in his canoe and... (full context)
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Huck learns that Jim came to Jackson’s Island the night after Huck was allegedly killed, and... (full context)
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If it wasn’t Huck killed in the cabin, Jim asks Huck, who was killed? Huck then explains his escape... (full context)
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Some young birds fly by Jim and Huck. Jim says that this is a sign that it is going to rain, for chickens... (full context)
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Huck asks if there are any good-luck signs. Jim says there are very few, and that... (full context)
Chapter 9
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In the morning, Huck wants to find the middle of the island, so he and Jim set out and... (full context)
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Outside, it begins to rain fiercely. Huck is very content, however, and Jim points out that Huck wouldn’t be in the cavern... (full context)
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One night a two-story cabin floats by. Though Huck and Jim board the cabin through a window, it is too dark to see anything,... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Huck wonders who shot the dead man he and Jim discovered, and why, but Jim doesn’t... (full context)
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In response, Huck reminds Jim of how, a few days earlier, Huck had fetched a snakeskin with his... (full context)
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The next morning, bored, Huck wants to go exploring, which Jim thinks is a good idea, but he reminds Huck... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Judith answers the door and asks Huck his name and where’s he’s from. Huck lies to the woman, giving a girl’s name.... (full context)
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Judith then tells Huck how hard times are for her and her family, how poor they are and how... (full context)
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Judith gives Huck a snack and some advice. She tells him to remember his name next time, that... (full context)
Chapter 12
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Huck and Jim drift away from Jackson’s Island, undiscovered by the men looking for them. At... (full context)
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At nights, Huck goes into town to buy provisions and supplies. In the mornings, he slips into cornfields... (full context)
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One night during a storm, Huck and Jim see a wrecked steamboat. Huck wants to board it and have an “adventure,”... (full context)
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Once onboard the steamboat, Huck and Jim realize that they’re not alone. They hear voices, one of a man pleading... (full context)
Chapter 13
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Terrified, Huck and Jim search for the skiff the men used to reach the wreck, at long... (full context)
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Huck realizes it must be dreadful to be in the position the robber-murderers are in, trapped... (full context)
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In the darkness, Huck and Jim spot their unmanned raft and paddle towards it. Upon reaching it, Jim boards,... (full context)
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Huck feels good about going to so much trouble to save the gang in the steamboat.... (full context)
Chapter 14
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The next day, Huck and Jim enjoy the things they found in the robbers’ skiff, and Huck describes the... (full context)
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Huck reads to Jim about kings and noblemen. Huck explains that kings get whatever they want... (full context)
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Huck tells Jim about Louis XVI and his young son, who was jailed after his father’s... (full context)
Chapter 15
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Huck and Jim judge that they are three days out of Cairo, near the Ohio River.... (full context)
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Huck asks Jim if he fell asleep and why Jim didn’t think to wake him. Jim... (full context)
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Huck requests that Jim tell him all about his dream, which Jim proceeds to do. Jim... (full context)
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Huck then asks what the leaves and rubbish on the raft mean, along with its broken... (full context)
Chapter 16
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Huck and Jim continue their journey to Cairo, and, as they approach it, Jim trembles and... (full context)
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Restless and fidgety like Huck, Jim talks about what he will do when he is free, how he will work... (full context)
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Jim spots in the distance what he thinks is Cairo. Huck volunteers to paddle over and see if it is, with the intent of turning Jim... (full context)
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Huck feels bad and low when he returns to the raft, but reasons that he would... (full context)
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Huck and Jim resume their journey, passing two towns, only to find out that neither are... (full context)
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Huck and Jim learn they have reached the muddy Missouri River, and figure that Cairo is... (full context)
Chapter 17
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...of a window into the darkness, commands the dogs to hush and asks, “Who’s there?” Huck says that he’s George Jackson, only a boy. The man asks if Huck knows the... (full context)
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The Grangerfords are welcoming and friendly and provide Huck with a meal, clothes, and a place to stay. The boy who lends Huck clothes,... (full context)
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Huck admires the Grangerford’s home, many of the features of which, like the brass doorknob and... (full context)
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...and color. Her masterpiece is of a woman preparing to jump from a bridge, but Huck thinks the woman looks too “spidery.” Emmeline also wrote poetry about the deaths of men,... (full context)
Chapter 18
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Huck regards Mr. Grangerford, who is the least frivolous of men, as being a gentleman, well-bred,... (full context)
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Huck observes that many slaves serve the Grangerford family, each Grangerford being tended to by one... (full context)
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Huck learns that there is another aristocratic family living nearby: the Shepherdsons, as proud and grand... (full context)
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Huck asks Buck why he wanted to kill Harney. Buck says he doesn’t have a reason,... (full context)
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Huck goes to church with the Grangerfords and listens to a sermon about brotherly love, which... (full context)
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After retrieving Miss Sophia’s Testament, Huck shakes it and out falls a note, on which is written: “Half-past two.” Huck gives... (full context)
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Huck heads down to the river, only to notice that the slave tending to him, Jack,... (full context)
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The next day, Huck notices he is alone in the Grangerford’s house. He goes outside, where Jack tells him... (full context)
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...at Buck and the other Grangerford boy. Wounded, the two boys jump into the river. Huck feels so sick he almost falls out of his tree. He regrets, he says, ever... (full context)
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Huck goes to where Jim is hiding. Jim is so glad to see Huck that he... (full context)
Chapter 19
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One morning, while canoeing through a creek in search of berries, Huck encounters two men running, pleading with Huck to let them on his canoe, begging for... (full context)
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After meeting up with the two men, Huck learns that the older one got into trouble for selling “an article to take tartar... (full context)
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...having once been “so high.” He claims to have been born the Duke of Bridgewater. Huck and Jim pity the man after he begins to cry, and the duke tells the... (full context)
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...ease. The king asks for the duke’s hand, and the duke gives it to him. Huck and Jim immediately feel more comfortable after the unfriendliness on the raft dissipates; for, as... (full context)
Chapter 20
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The duke and king ask Huck and Jim if Jim is a runaway slave. Huck says that Jim’s not and tells... (full context)
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With Jim still on the raft and the duke at the printing office, Huck and the king go to the meeting in the woods and find thousands of people... (full context)
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...He also printed a wanted poster describing Jim, so that he and the king and Huck and Jim can travel by day; for if anyone were to stop them concerning Jim,... (full context)
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That night, as Huck comes up to replace Jim as the lookout, Jim asks Huck if he expects them... (full context)
Chapter 21
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...a small town, where the duke posts a bill advertising his and the king’s performance. Huck notices that the town is dilapidated: the houses aren’t painted, weeds grow in the gardens,... (full context)
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By noon, many townspeople are drinking. Huck witnesses three fights. One townsperson cries out that “old Boggs” is riding into town, drunk,... (full context)
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...no avail. A man runs to fetch Boggs’ daughter. About five or ten minutes later, Huck, having walked down the street, sees Boggs, no longer on his horse, nervous-looking. Sherburn calls... (full context)
Chapter 22
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Huck goes to the circus, which he thinks splendid. A drunk man approaches the ringmaster of... (full context)
Chapter 23
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...audience before. As they eat later that night, the duke and king tell Jim and Huck to float the boat two miles below town and to hide it. On the third... (full context)
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Back at the raft, Huck and the duke meet up with Jim and the king, who didn’t even go to... (full context)
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Huck knows that the duke and king are really just con men, but he doesn’t think... (full context)
Chapter 24
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...black clothes that make him look “swell and starchy,” rafts to a nearby town with Huck. As they drift in, the two run across a young country boy. The king says... (full context)
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After dropping the boy off, the king tells Huck to fetch the duke. Huck knows what the king is up to (conning the Wilks... (full context)
Chapter 25
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...and William Wilks, are received by Peter Wilks’s family, including his niece Mary Jane, whom Huck thinks is very beautiful. When the duke and king approach Peter’s coffin, all the people... (full context)
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The duke and king, along with Huck, go to the cellar and find the hidden bag full of gold, and, even though... (full context)
Chapter 26
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The duke and king and Huck are all given rooms in the Wilks home to sleep in. Later that night, the... (full context)
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One of the Wilks girls, Joanna, whom Huck calls “the hare-lip” because she is afflicted with that condition, asks Huck about England. Huck... (full context)
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Joanna accuses Huck of telling her lies. Huck denies the accusation, swearing on a dictionary that he has... (full context)
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Huck searches the king’s room for the money but doesn’t find it. Just then the duke... (full context)
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...up Mary Jane’s belongings might find the gold and steal some of it. Almost discovering Huck, the king takes the money from behind the curtain and hides it in a straw... (full context)
Chapter 27
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Huck tries to take the money outside. He makes it as far as the parlor, where... (full context)
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Huck creeps back up to his room, and night turns to day. In the afternoon, Peter... (full context)
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...off some of his usual rubbage” by giving another speech, the undertaker seals the coffin. Huck can’t be sure whether the bag of gold is still in there or if somebody... (full context)
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...separates a mother from her children. The Wilks girls are distraught at this, and, if Huck hadn’t known that “the sale was of no account” and that the family of slaves... (full context)
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Later, the duke and king also question Huck about whether he’s been in their room. Huck lies and says that he hasn’t, but... (full context)
Chapter 28
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Huck comes upon Mary Jane, who is packing for her trip to England. She is also... (full context)
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Huck reveals that the duke and king are not Mary Jane’s uncles but rather a couple... (full context)
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Huck tells Mary Jane to go away, because he is afraid that she will express in... (full context)
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After Mary Jane lights out, Huck runs into her sisters. Huck lies that Mary Jane has gone to visit a sick... (full context)
Chapter 29
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...then tells his story, followed by the old man claiming to be Harvey Wilks, and Huck thinks it’s obvious that the king’s is a liar and the old man a truth-teller.... (full context)
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After disinterring Peter’s corpse, the townspeople discover the bag of gold that Huck hid in Peter’s coffin. The man who is holding Huck by the arm to prevent... (full context)
Chapter 30
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After the duke and king board the raft, the king shakes Huck by the collar and asks if he was trying to give the con men the... (full context)
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...thick as thieves again, and literally sleeping in one another’s arms. As the two sleep, Huck tells Jim everything that’s happened. (full context)
Chapter 31
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Huck, Jim, and the con men drift downriver for four days, at which point the duke... (full context)
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...to see if the people there have caught wind of The Royal Nonesuch. At noon, Huck and the duke, who’s been in a sour mood, set out to join the king,... (full context)
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As Huck runs to the raft, he shouts with joy to Jim that they are free. But... (full context)
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Huck considers writing a letter to Tom Sawyer asking him to tell Miss Watson that Jim... (full context)
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As Huck makes his way to save Jim, he runs into the duke. Over the course of... (full context)
Chapter 32
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Huck arrives at the Phelps’ and feels lonesome, because the droning of bugs and quivering of... (full context)
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Dogs swarm around Huck, but soon a slave comes out and yells at the dogs to scram. The slave... (full context)
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The woman who welcomes Huck is called Aunt Sally. She takes Huck inside where she questions him about his trip,... (full context)
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Aunt Sally and Uncle Silas question Huck, thinking him Tom, about their relatives, and Huck answers their questions with ease. As they’re... (full context)
Chapter 33
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As Huck walks to town, he sees a wagon coming toward him, riding in which is Tom... (full context)
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Huck returns to the Phelps’ too quickly after meeting Tom, but Uncle Silas, whom Huck considers... (full context)
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...says that, according to the runaway slave (Jim) and another man, the show is scandalous. Huck, realizing that the show must be the duke and king’s, sneaks out of the house... (full context)
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As he and Tom walk back to the farm, Huck feels humble and somehow to blame for the duke and king’s fate, even though he... (full context)
Chapter 34
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...the fact that a slave (Nat) goes to that hut with human food every day. Huck is impressed with Tom’s reasoning, and thinks that he wouldn’t trade Tom Sawyer’s mind for... (full context)
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Huck suggests that he and Tom bring up the raft, steal the key to Jim’s hut,... (full context)
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Huck and Tom survey the Phelps’ farm and think of ways to bust Jim out of... (full context)
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Jim greets Huck and Tom by name, which startles Nat. He asks how it is that Jim knows... (full context)
Chapter 35
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...or a guard-dog, or that Jim were better chained down. He sighs that he and Huck will have to invent difficulties; for he wants the escape to be as grand as... (full context)
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Tom also proposes that he and Huck make Jim a rope ladder by tearing and tying up their sheets, and that they... (full context)
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Tom also says that Huck should steal a shirt off the clothesline, so that Jim can use it to keep... (full context)
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That morning, Huck steals things to give Jim, as well as a watermelon from the slave’s watermelon patch.... (full context)
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Finally, Tom tells Huck that they need to steal tools to dig Jim out of the hut with. Huck... (full context)
Chapter 36
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In the night, Huck and Tom begin digging with their knives to rescue Jim, but after a while are... (full context)
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The next day, Huck and Tom steal a spoon and candlestick from the house for Jim to use as... (full context)
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...Tom says he is having the most fun of his life, and that he and Huck should keep their game up so for as long as possible, and even suggests that... (full context)
Chapter 37
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Tom and Huck get what they need to bake the witch-pie. Afterwards, the boys go down to breakfast,... (full context)
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...his hat but doesn’t mention it. Tom recognizes that Uncle Silas has helped him and Huck conceal their plan to help Jim by producing the spoon at breakfast, and so he... (full context)
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Huck and Tom steal another spoon, but pretend that Aunt Sally miscounted how many there were... (full context)
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After a lot of trouble and experimentation, Tom and Huck bake the witch-pie, which is basically a crust under which is hidden a ladder. Nat... (full context)
Chapter 38
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...of his hut; he must carve them into stone. Tom proposes, then, that he and Huck steal a grindstone to carve the inscriptions into, and which can also be used to... (full context)
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When they have the grindstone halfway home, Tom and Huck realize that they can’t roll it all the way without help, because it is too... (full context)
Chapter 39
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Jim is agitated by the creatures that Tom and Huck introduce to his hut. He says that there isn’t hardly any room for him, and... (full context)
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After all preparations are completed, Tom says that he and Huck need to write an anonymous letter to warn the Phelpses that someone is going to... (full context)
Chapter 40
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...Phelps family is troubled and anxious after receiving the anonymous letter Tom wrote. Tom and Huck are sent to bed early, where they get ready to take a lunch they have... (full context)
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In the sitting room, Huck is surprised to see fifteen farmers, all with guns. Huck wishes Aunt Sally would get... (full context)
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Huck hurries to meet Tom inside Jim’s hut to tell him about the farmers. Tom is... (full context)
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...considerable pain and bleeding. After some deliberation, Jim says he will not leave Tom’s side. Huck knew that Jim would say that, because he knows that Jim “was white inside,” and,... (full context)
Chapter 41
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Huck fetches a nice old doctor, telling him that Tom is his brother and that, while... (full context)
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...to the raft where Tom is, but the canoe can only carry one person, so Huck is forced to stay behind. He sleeps in a lumber pile that night, and by... (full context)
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...must have stolen things from the Phelps house. Soon, Aunt Sally wonders why Tom and Huck weren’t in their room that morning. Huck gets up, thinks about it, and by way... (full context)
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Aunt Sally grows increasingly worried that “Sid” (i.e., Tom) hasn’t come home yet. Huck volunteers to fetch him, but Aunt Sally tells him he’ll do no such thing. Uncle... (full context)
Chapter 42
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The next morning, as Huck and the Phelpses sit around the breakfast table, Aunt Sally sees Tom on a mattress... (full context)
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Tom begins to recover, and comes fully to as Aunt Sally and Huck sit at his bedside. He joyfully recounts to an incredulous Aunt Sally how he and... (full context)
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...Polly, his guardian, has come in, much to Aunt Sally’s delight. She reveals Tom and Huck’s true identities, and tells the disgruntled Phelpses all about Huck. She also confirms that Miss... (full context)
Chapter 43
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When Huck catches Tom in private, he asks Tom what his plan was if they had successfully... (full context)
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...gives Jim forty dollars for being such a patient prisoner, such that Jim can remind Huck that he predicted he would be rich, and now he is. (full context)
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Tom suggests that he and Huck and Jim travel to the Territory for adventure, but Huck says he doesn’t have enough... (full context)
Society and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
Eventually, Tom heals completely. Huck is glad he doesn’t have anything more to write about, because, he says, making a... (full context)