The book starts with Huck Finn retelling the major events of the book that proceeded it, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. He tells the reader that Tom and he found six-thousand dollar worth of gold that was hidden by robbers. He also said that most of the things in The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer were true but Mark Twain took the liberty of making a few fabrications in the story. After Huck and Tom got the money at the end of the first book, Judge Thatcher invested it and it gave them interest of a dollar a day. A widow took Huck in and started raising him, she educated him on how to read and write and in religion. After the first narration is finished Huck sneaks out and the reader meets up with Mrs. Watson’s slave, Jim. Jim had a wife and two kids that the reader learns about later in the book. Tom and Huck who are together then pass by Jim on their way to a secret cave where Tom says he wants to be the meeting place of a new gang that they would form. They signed an oath of secrecy then they figured out what they were going to do as a gang. Tom tells them that gangs in all of the books he reads did nothing but murder and steal. That is when little Tommy Barnes ran away and said he wanted no part in the gang. After an adventure or two the gang had a mutual breakup. Months passed by and Huck gives Judge Thatcher all of his money and interest. Soon after Huck’s drunkard dad shows up and is furious with him for learning how to read and write. He consistently takes all of Huck’s money and uses it to buy whiskey. He also physically abuses Huck, so Judge Thatcher appeals to the court to transfer custody to the widow Douglas who was raising him, so Huck’s father steals him away and takes him to a cabin across the river. Huck likes the cabin instead of school, but he can’t stand his father’s abuse.
He escapes the cabin and his father by making an elaborate plan to convince him and the rest of the town that he was dead. Next, he loads a raft/canoe up with all of the valuables in the cabin and escapes to Jackson’s Island. On the island, Huck meets up with Jim again who tells him he is on the run from Mr. Watson. Jim tells him a story about how he used to have money, but never had any luck, and consequently lost it all. It starts to rain and on the next day the water level raises on the left side of the island. Huck and Jim use a canoe to paddle out and found a deserted cabin with a dead body in it. Huck doesn’t look at the body and Jim spreads a cloth over it, then they borrow (Huck like to call stealing borrowing) what was available to salvage in the cabin. With the thick fishing line they borrow, they skin a rabbit and use it as bait to catch a 6 foot long catfish.
Huck gets tired of the same boring things on the island and decides to go to town and see how things are going without him. He puts on a yellow dress and a bonnet and leaves the island for the city at nighttime. Luckily he stumbles on to the house of a woman who has only been living in town for two weeks. She asks Huck his name and he says Sarah Williams, the they start talking about how everyone was sad in town about Huck’s death even though he was such a hand-full. She tells him that the first suspect was his dad who skipped town after he became a suspect. Another suspect was Jim who ran away right after the murder because of a completely independent incident. Jim was going to be sold down in New Orleans for 800, but he didn’t want to go. After they finish talking about the murders they go on talking about other things. After a while of talking she asks Huck what his name was again and he says Mary William, but he quickly covers his lie by saying that his name was Sarah Mary Williams. At the end of the discussion the woman realizes that it’s not a little girl she was talking to, but a little boy and asks Huck for his real name and story. He covers this up with another lie about how he was running away from his family who was abusing him and made a wrong turn when trying to go the city of Goshen. Before he leaves the woman also tells him that her husband was looking for Jim on Jackson’s Island trying to get the reward on Jim’s head.
Huck rushes back to Jackson’s Island and they flee in a raft, and days later after nothing particularly interesting happens they happen on to the wreck of a steamboat. Even though Jim doesn’t want to go on to it, Huck convinces him when he tells him about how much money steamboat captains make and that the storeroom probably had lots of supplies in it. What they found on the wreck wasn’t money or food though… They went aboard the sinking steamboat, and they hear voices. Jim makes a quick exit but it’s not as easy for Huck, and consequently becomes stuck with no way out without getting caught. Huck sees a man on the floor with two others hovering above him, one with a pistol in hand. The two murders talk for a few minutes and make a consensus that they don’t want to kill him with their own hands. Instead, they want to make a getaway from the boat and wait about two hours until it sank. The two murders agree and Huck takes this time to leave secretly back to the raft. When he gets back to Jim, he says that the raft is gone, which leaves them with only one option. Huck and Jim steal the boat that the murders used to get on the wreck. The next day they inform another steamboat captain about the wreck of the Walter Scott and the people on it, even though they don’t think they survived.
After a chapter of Huck taking to Jim about the adventures of Dukes and Kings Jim asks why Frenchmen don’t talk the way regular people talk. After an exhausting argument, that was also pretty funny to read, Huck gives up trying to explain that speaking different languages made sense. They wake up and set their goal at Cairo at the bottom of Illinois on the Ohio River. Ohio was one of the free states so they reckoned they would be out of trouble once they got there (they reckoned a lot of things in this book). A thick fog comes in and as Huck tries to steer he is thrown off the raft, and finds it later on. To help him find the raft, Jim keeps yelling at the top of his voice to make sure Huck stays oriented in the water. By he meets up with the raft once again he finds Jim sleeping on the raft with his head between his knees, and Jim is overjoyed when he sees Huck again because he thought that le had lost him earlier that night. Huck plays a dirty trick on him when he tells Jim that he had dreamed everything — their separation, the fog, and all of the yelling. Thinking it was a dream, Jim proceeds to interpret the dream’s symbols he said the first set of forest they passed could stand for a man who will try to do something good for them, the current was a man who would try to get them away from him, the yells are warnings that they need to take heed of, and the rest of the forest were mean people and bullies along the way. The joke is finally played out once Huck shows him the broken oar and the damaged raft from the night before as a symbol that the dream actually happened. Jim was furious at the joke Huck played on him, and refused to talk to him that night; Jim did feel sorry about playing the joke on him.
Jim was on alert to find Cairo, because that was where the free states started, but Huck was inwardly apprehensive because he didn’t want to steal Jim out of slavery, because Mrs. Watson never did anything to Huck to make him want to help steal her property. His inward struggle lasted a while and isn’t very interesting to read, but this writer will give you some details about it anyway so the reader of the paper will know that the writer of this essay read that part the book. Jim talked out loud all of the time Huck was thinking to himself, and every-time he saw a light or city he would say Dah’s Cairo. Jim said that after he was out of slavery he’d save up all of the money he would get to buy his wife out of slavery and his two children, but if he didn’t have enough money for the children he would get an Abolitionist to steal them for him. This made Jim feel awful to be a part of working with an abolitionist, and he said to himself that if he ever showed up in his town again he would be shunned for doing something like stealing a slave. I guess he didn’t remember at the time that to the town and the rest of the world Huck Finn is dead. Anyway, back to the story.
A steamboat captain who was powerful hotdogging (they use the word powerful as an adjective in this book and they also use the word by-and-by a lot) crashes into the raft and destroys all of Huck and Jim’s possessions and scatters them in their mad swim for shore. It’s the middle of the night when Huck gets to shore in an unfamiliar area. Someone pokes their head out of a window and asks him what he is doing prowling on the property, he says he is not prowling and is invited in. The name he takes on with this family is George Jackson. Huck is asked if he knows the Shepardsons and he says no. Huck meets Buck a son of the Grangerford family. After Buck unsuccessfully tries to tell Huck a joke about Moses and a candle Huck eats and is amazed with the grandeur of the house. They are a very rich family, they have a big fireplace that is bricked at the bottom, a table-cloth made out of beautiful oil cloth, and wax fruit. He also came across the scrapbook of Emmeline Grangerford a woman obsessed with death who wrote poetry about everyone in the obituaries in the newspaper. All wasn’t right in the Grangerford household, however. After meeting Col. Grangerford and the rest of the men of the house, Tom and Bob, Buck and Huck go out in the wood and are surprised by a horse. Unsuspectingly, Buck yells for Huck to hide in the bushes and Buck takes a shot with his gun at Harney Sheapardson. It ends up that the Grangerfords and the Shepardsons are having a feud. Buck defines a feud as “A man has a quarrel with another man, and kills him; then that other mans brother kills him; then the other brothers on both sides, go after on another; then the cousins chip in and by-and-by everybody is killed off.” Whether that is logical or not is up to the reader to decide. One of the ladies of the Grangerford house, Miss Sophia, acts strangely and asks Huck to get a Bible that she had mistakenly left at church earlier that day. He does what he is told, finds the Bible and through a bit of investigation a piece of paper falls out with a time written on it. He delivers the Bible with the paper to Sophia and acts as if he doesn’t know how to read. The next day Sophia goes off to elope with Harney Sheapardson and as a result sparks a gun battle that leave 7 dead — 4 Sheapardson, 3 Grangerford.
Huck meets up with Jim again and they leave on the raft and for two or three nights nothing significant happened. Once or twice one would see a steamboat or something passing in by, but nothing good can last forever by-and-by and soon enough they got themselves in over their heads once again. On a canoe voyage to the mainland on one instance, Huck found two men who desperately needed to get away from the city. Huck helps them by letting them use the raft, and once the two men are safe they introduce themselves. One ran away from the city for selling a tartar removing product that removed just as much tooth as tartar, and the other was run out of town for making a sham temperance class. The two also try to convince Huck and Jim that they are down on their luck royalty, on being a Duke and the other being the real successor to Louis the 16th. Huck realized quickly that they aren’t real royalty, but he thought there was no sense in telling Jim otherwise.
The Duke and King took up practicing the play Romeo and Juliet. Before they could do anything with that, the King swindled a congregation full of church goers out of their money by pretending he is a reformed pirate and speaking at a sermon. Days passed by and after practicing their Romeo and Juliet, they made up flyers to preform it at a circus that is in town. The show is a dismal failure, not only due to their dismal performances but also because of the lack of those interested in Shakespear in the town. Meanwhile, Huck comes upon a scene that quickly turns a wry. Old Boggs is the town drunkard, and is consequently also the town laughing-stock. Boggs is making noise and disturbing the peace in the town, which looked like a regular occurrence, when Colonel Sheburn stops him and gives him fifteen minutes to sober himself up. Old Boggs continues to disturb the peace and is shot by the Colonel twice. A mob is incited by the shooting and is out for the Colonel’s blood. Sheburn meets the mob with angry words and after his speech was done presents a loaded rifle at the crowd which scatters them. They eventually lose interest.
With the Shakespearian show as it was, a bust, the two con men had a new idea to bilk money from the citizens. The Duke makes new posters which explicitly call for no women and children to get the men interested which led to a packed crowd. The show now consisted of one 30 second act leaving people befuddled and asking for refunds that they would never get. They called this show The Royal Nonesuch. Huck attends an entertaining circus act and the two con men bilk unsuspecting patrons out of their money for a second night. On the third and last night, all of the patrons who were there came again from a previous night, however, they’re prepared with eggs and tomatoes ready to throw. The Duke and King have the last laugh when they skip town with the mob’s entrance money because they know about the ambush in advance.
The crooks leave the city with hundreds of dollars, and after meeting up with Jim once again they leave in the raft. The Duke gets another idea and talks to a steamboat mate about a town ahead. In the town a wealthy man had just died and is expecting two English uncles to be coming down river any time now. The King and Duke jump at this opportunity and learn as much as they can about the two uncles. They get off of the raft and paddle a canoe to the edge of town, from there they hide the canoe and walked for a little while to the funeral of the rich man, Peter Wilks. The King took on the identity of William Wilks, the Duke of his blind and mute friend, and Huck (who is not a very willing participant) the role of William’s servant. After the funeral and many bouts of sorrow, homily, and sobbing the book started getting good again. It ends up that Peter Wilks left an inheritance of $6000 (a whole lot for the time) in gold along with the rest of his estate. The Duke and the King being trusted friends of the deceased are sent to unearth the treasure. When they find it, the treasure comes up a few hundred dollars short, and as not to look like thieves they made up the balance with the thought that they would get it all back when they conned the money later.
Mary Jane and her two sisters are Peter Wilks’ daughter and they are responsible for the extra $6000 of inheritance; they foolishly give the sum of money to the imposter’s, but the greedy Duke and King were after more. Huck is disgusted at the thought of the King and Duke depriving the women out of so much of their money and contrived a plan to get it back to the sisters with neither the Duke and King, nor the sisters finding out what happened. Before the lid is screwed on to Peter Wilks’ coffin, Huck would steal the bag of money from the crooks and put it in the coffin with the dead man, When they leave town and are further down the river, Huck would send notice that the gold is buried with the man, and all would be well. Or at least that’s how he thinks it will go.
Huck steals the money from the Duke and King after they finish talking about where to hid the bag of money. They end up placing it under the bed, which is a simple enough place for Huck to get it. Next in his plan is getting the money inside the coffin. This is done before the undertaker closes the lid at the final funeral. What Huck hadn’t counted on is the crooks noticing that the money was gone by-and-by. When the King questions Huck about where it is, Huck weaves a story about slaves coming into the King’s room suspiciously, which made the King automatically assume it was the slaves that did it, leading the King’s suspicion off of Huck’s track.
The afternoon turns into night and Huck sees Mary-Jane crying about the slaves from her estate the King just sold. Now I don’t have enough time or patients to go into the minor, frivolous details of this encounter, so this writer will cut to the chase, for the reader’s sake and my own. Huck and Mary babble on for a little while and Huck spills the beans on the whole scam. He also makes Mary promise that she won’t tell anyone about what he told her until 11 in the night the next day, which gives Huck plenty of time to escape.
The next day is judgement day for the two con men as the real William Wilks and his friend show up off a steamboat. This new William says that his bags were delivered to a town south of there and would be there the next day for identification purposes, the King countered that that was the likely story of a fraud. Both parties are then put on trial, the loser would receive death by hanging. They go through two tests and then a handwriting test and each is still inconclusive. The real Wilks asks the King if he knows what kind of tattoo that Peter had the King said a blue arrow and William said his initials — so the body had to be dug up to prove one or the other incorrect conclusively. All of the parties are chained up and led to the grave site. When the body is dug up, the realization that there was gold in the coffin caused a huge stir, and with the whole town in disbelief Huck made a run for it. To make a long story short, running through the town he saw Mary Jane’s signal, a lit candle, knew everything was alright, and met up with Jim at the raft.
Huck and Jim paddled as fast as they can to get out of there, but they realize that they are being followed. They’re being followed by none other than a soaking wet King and Duke who somehow managed to escape as much as Huck didn’t want them to. To save face and not get killed, they let the two stay on the raft until they could figured out another way to try to ditch them. To sum up a long 20 pages, the Duke and King make up for some of their peccadillos, and Jim is sold by the King in a town where the King and Duke are running another Royal Nonesuch scam. Huck goes to the house of the man Jim was sold to, Silas Phelps, and is surprised when he is welcomed in to open arms by a woman he didn’t know. He pretends like he knows them until he pieces together who they really think he is, and the person they really think he is Tom Sawyer. Well isn’t that just a little bit ironic. Back to the story. Huck meets up with Tom Sawyer himself who pretends he is a friend of the Sawyer family while Huck is pretending he is Tom. Huck has an easy plan to break Jim out by stealing the key to the shed he is in and using the raft to run away. Tom, however, want to use a little more style in getting him out by-and-by. Tom, who is enchanted with romanticism and with book storylines devises a plan to dig Jim out, make him a rope ladder and saw the chain in half he is connected to. Huck thinks highly of Tom and concedes to do it Tom’s way which will take three times as long. So, in short, they make a pen for Jim out of spoons and continue to try to free Jim the way they would do it in the books. A doctor came to the house because the one of the Phelp’s had a dream about being shot by-and-by. Also two men came the house and told Huck and the rest of them that Mrs. Watson died freeing Jim from slavery in her will and making him a free man before Huck and Tom could.
Huck said he would stick around and with Aunt Sally and get civilized and Huck ends the book by telling us, that if he knew writing a book would be this hard, he wouldn’t have started in the first place. Now how’s that for an ending.