The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Chapters 12-19

Read chapters 13-19 of Huckleberry Finn. Use the resources below to facilitate your comprehension of these chapters.

Chapter 13 (Google Text pages 98-105)

Listen to Chapter 13

Summary of Chapter 13: Getting into the rowboat that the murderers themselves were planning to get away in, Huck and Jim hurriedly hurl themselves into the little boat and finally get away from the whole fiasco. They find their raft further downstream as they pass a ferryboat with a watchman on deck. Huck, wanting to help the "rapscallions" who he and Jim had stranded, tells this man that he is from the wrecked steamboat (ironically named the Walter Scott) and that his family is still on board.

Later, Huck thinks to himself that the Widow Douglas would be quite proud of him for helping the men, since these are the kind, according to her, that most need helping.

Chapter 14--XIV (Google Text pages 106-111)

Listen to Chapter 14

Summary of Chapter 14: Looking through the supplies they had received from the wreck, Huck and Jim talk about the adventures they've just had. Through the course of the conversation, Huck admits that Jim "had an uncommon level head, for a nigger." This shows that some of Huck's assumptions about Jim are beginning to change.

Next, perhaps the most comical scene in the book takes place as Huck and Jim discuss the nature of kings and dukes. Huck, who has read more about them in his books, explains to Jim that kings don't do any work, but still get to have as much of anything as they want. Jim's knowledge of kings is limited to "King Sollermun." The two have a humorous conversation about him, and this leads into a discussion of languages, Jim not understanding the nature of different languages. This all serves to show Huck that Jim, though he may have an "uncommon level head," is incredibly ignorant and stubborn.

Chapters 15-16 XV-XVI (Google Text pages 112-120)

Listen to Chapter 15
Listen to Chapter 16

Summary of Chapter 15: Still planning on getting into the free states of the North, Jim and Huck continue their journey. Eventually the two get separated from each other, and Jim comes to believe that Huck has died. When Huck finds Jim a bit later, Jim is surprised but happy to see him again.

Summary of Chapter 16:Believing themselves to be close to freedom now, Huck begins to feel guilty for having helped Jim escape. Southern society has taught him that freeing a slave is a sin, and Huck starts to worry that he will go to hell.

Being forced to postpone these thoughts for later, however, Huck is confronted by men who are looking for fugitive slaves. Wanting to search the raft for the slaves, the men begin to row out to it. Huck, however, ingeniously dissuades the men from such action by telling them that his father is onboard and has smallpox. Instead of helping, the men give Huck some money in charity.

Later, now night, Huck and Jim jump overboard and are separated when a much larger vessel cuts their little raft into two pieces. Huck nearly drowns, but manages to reach shore, not having heard any sign of Jim.

Watch and listen to discussion of chapters 15-16. You are encouraged to take notes.

Chapter 17 XVII (Google Text pages 146-162)

Listen to chapter 17

Chapter 17 Summary: Now on land, Huck walks a few paces before he hears a male voice yelling at him from a nearby house window. Apparently he has reached the Grangerford family headquarters. When asked who he is, Huck tells the man that his name is George Jackson and that he has just fallen off the steamboat. Taking him inside, the man examines Huck by candlelight, convinced that he isn't a Shepherdson, the name of the family with which the Grangerfords are feuding.

The Grangerford family takes Huck in, and he admits that they were really nice. The ironic thing is, despite their obsession with feuding, the family seems to be very religious. Twain obviously uses this to further his indictment of religion.

This section of the novel makes the reader think about the contrast between the life on shore verses the river. What might the raft represent to Huck and Jim?
Note all of the interesting characters that Huck and Jim come across on their journey. Most of the time Twain is using these characters to satirize certain groups of society. Think about who Twain is satirizing and why.

What does Buck say when Huck asks him how the feud between the Shepherdsons and the Grangerfords got started? What is ironic about Buck's reponse?

Chapter 18 XVIII (Google Text pages 146-162)

Listen to chapter 18

Chapter 18 Summary: Buck's education continues. He learns that the Grangerford family is practically part of the aristocracy. The other competing aristocracy in town seems to be the Shepherdsons. The families are feuding, Huck is told, because of some dispute that happened many years ago. When he asks what the nature of the dispute was, no one knows. All of this seems quite ridiculous to Huck. Soon word reaches the house that Miss Sophia, the beautiful daughter of the household, has run away to elope with a young man from the Shepherdson family. This immediately causes all the men of the house to fetch their guns and prepare for battle. Traveling with Buck, Huck himself sees the bloodshed first-hand. All of it, however, makes him sick to his stomach, especially when he sees Buck killed. Luckily, he meets Jim in the woods, and the two of them run back towards the river, away from the senseless feuding.

Chapter 19 XIX (Google Text pages 163-174)

Listen to chapter 19

Chapter 19 Summary: In this chapter, after Huck and Jim have been traveling for a bit, they encounter two men who are running for their lives, being chased by dogs and men, they say. They ask Huck if they can get away with them, and Huck agrees. Eventually the men announce to each other and to Huck and Jim that they are actually a king and duke, who have lost their kingdoms. Huck doesn't say anything, but he admits to the reader that he thinks "these liars warn't no kings nor dukes, at all, but just low-down humbugs and frauds."

Last modified: Thursday, 14 June 2012, 4:20 PM