The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Summary and Analysis

Chapter 41 to Chapter 43

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Chapter 41

Huck returns to town and finds a doctor. Instead of allowing Huck to come along, the doctor makes Huck tell him where the raft is and takes the canoe out alone to find Tom and Jim. Huck falls asleep on a woodpile while waiting for him to return. When he wakes up, he is told the doctor has not yet returned.

Huck soon sees Silas, who is very glad Huck is not hurt. Together, they go to the post office, and Silas asks where Sid is. Huck makes up a story about Sid taking off to gather news about the events of the night. When they return home, Aunt Sally makes a fuss over Huck, but is glad he has returned.

A large gathering is held at the house, and the women discuss how they think Jim must have been crazy due to Jim's grindstone inscriptions and the tools found in his hut, all of which Huck and Tom actually crafted.

Aunt Sally is worried about Sid's whereabouts. Huck tells her the same tale he told Uncle Silas, but it does not set her mind at ease. During the night, Huck sneaks out several times and each time sees her sitting with a lit candle on the front porch, waiting for Sid's return. Huck feels very sorry for her and wishes he could tell her everything.

Chapter 42

The next day, the doctor appears, bringing Tom on a stretcher and Jim in chains. Tom is comatose due to a fever from the bullet wound, but is still alive. Aunt Sally takes him inside and immediately starts to care for him. Tom improves rapidly and is almost completely better by the next day.

Huck goes into the bedroom to sit with Tom and see how he is doing. Aunt Sally walks in as well and while both of them are sitting there, Tom wakes up. He immediately starts to tell Aunt Sally about everything the two of them did and how they managed to help Jim escape. Aunt Sally cannot believe they were creating all of the trouble around her house.

When Tom hears that Jim has been recaptured he shouts at them that they cannot chain Jim up anymore. He tells them that Jim has been free ever since Miss Watson died and freed him in her will. Apparently Miss Watson was so ashamed about planning to sell Jim that she felt it best to set him free.

At that moment Aunt Polly, Aunt Sally's sister, appears. Aunt Sally is so surprised that she rushes over to her sister to give her a hug. Aunt Polly proceeds to tell Aunt Sally that the boys masquerading as Tom and Sid are actually Huck and Tom. Embarrassed, the boys look quite sheepish. Aunt Polly only gets angry when she discovers that Tom has been stealing and hiding her letters. She also explains to Aunt Sally that in regards to Jim, Tom is correct. Miss Watson freed Jim in her will.

Chapter 43

Tom tells Huck he had planned for them to run all the way to the mouth of the Mississippi if they had managed to escape unharmed. Jim gets a positive reception in the house because of how well he cared for Tom when he was sick. Tom, feeling slightly guilty, gives Jim forty dollars for putting up with them the entire time and for being such a good prisoner. Jim turns to Huck and tells him he was right about being a rich man one day.

Huck asks about his six thousand dollars, assuming Pap managed to take it all. However, Tom explains that Pap was never seen again after Huck disappeared. Finally, Jim reveals that the man he and Huck found dead in the floating house was in fact Pap, but Jim had not wanted Huck to see him.

Huck ends the novel by announcing that Aunt Sally wants to adopt him now, so he needs to start planning on heading west since he tried to be civilized once before, and did not like it.

Analysis

There are several key facts revealed in the final chapters that influence how the reader views each character. Tom announces that Jim is free, which reveals why Tom was willing to help Huck in what Huck thought was a true crime. Since Jim was already a free man, Tom was not breaking any laws and therefore thought the entire ordeal was a great adventure.

The second major revelation is that Pap is dead. Jim has known this for most of the journey, in fact since leaving Jackson's Island. However, Jim's motivation for hiding this secret from Huck is unclear. Perhaps Jim felt sorry for Huck and wanted to care for him since he was now an orphan. Or, perhaps Jim knew that if Huck found out Pap was dead, he would simply have returned to town and ended his runaway journey. Without Huck, Jim would have had a far more difficult journey downriver as a lone black man and runaway slave. Having developed a strong understanding of Jim's character, it seems most likely that Jim was motivated by kindness, but a selfish desire for Huck's companionship might also have played a role.

The ending appears to leave Huck almost exactly where he started. However, Huck has changed significantly during the course of his travels. Huck's comment that he needs to head west before they try to civilize is significant, because we know that Huck can act civilized when he needs to, as he survived well in his many extended stays at Southern family estates. In the beginning of the novel, Huck is a poor, simple, uneducated boy. However, by the conclusion of novel, Huck is a crafty, intelligent, wealthy young man who simply does not care to be a part of a boring middle-class lifestyle. Huck changes profoundly in the course of this novel, struggles with powerful moral issues, risks his life for those he cares about, and thrives in the process.

In addition, the depiction of black slaves changes dramatically in the course of the novel. At first, slaves are merely background characters, carrying out chores while white characters monopolize the plot. However, this changes with the introduction of Jim, and continues to develop even when Jim leaves the plot for brief periods. Thus, the King's forced break-up of the Wilks's slave family powerfully impacts the reader, whereas before getting to know Jim, it might not have been perceived as so significant. In addition to being a story about Huck's growth and maturation, and resulting freedom from his Pap, The Adeventures of Huckleberry Finn is also a story about Jim's journey towards freedom. By ending the novel with Jim becoming a free man, with money to his name, Twain provides a clear social commentary about the immorality of slavery.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is Twain's literary masterpiece. To create this novel he first overcame the difficulty of writing in the first person from a young boy's perspective. The novel is also a testament to the various dialects and characteristics of the southern regions. Lastly, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a story about freedom, as it deals with physical freedom for the slaves and spiritual freedom for both Jim and Huck. Few novels have approached the success of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in combining such serious issues with Twain's characteristically delightful humor.