American Literature books summary

In America in the early years of the 18th century, some writers, such as Cotton Mather, carried on the older

American Literature books summary

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nn) begins Chapter One by stating that the reader may know of him from another book, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by "Mr. Mark Twain," but it "ain't t no matter" if you have not. According to Huck, Twain mostly told the truth, with some "stretchers" thrown in, though everyone{except Tom's Aunt Polly, the widow, and maybe Mary{lies once in a while. The other book ended with Tom and Huckleberry finding the gold some robbers had hidden in a cave. They got six thousand dollars apiece, which Judge Thatcher put in trust, so that they each got a dollar a day from interest. The Widow Douglas adopted and tried to "civilise" Huck. But Huck couldn't stand it so he threw on his old rags and ran away. But he went back when Tom Sawyer told him he could join his new band of robbers if he would return to the Widow "and be respectable."

The Widow lamented over her failure with Huck, tried to stufi him into cramped clothing, and before every meal had to "grumble" over the food before they could eat it. She tried to teach him about Moses, until Huck found out he was dead and lost interest. Meanwhile, she would not let him smoke; typically, she disapproved of it because she had never tried it, but approved of snufi since she used it herself. Her slim sister who wears glasses, Miss Watson, tried to give him spelling lessons.

Meanwhile, Huck was going stir-crazy, made especially restless by the sisters' constant reminders to improve his behavior. When Miss Watson told him about the "bad place," Hell, he burst out that he would like to go there, as a change of scenery. Secretly, Huck really does not see the point in going to "the good place" and resolved then not to bother trying to get there.

When Huck asked, Miss Watson told him there was no chance Tom Sawyer would end up in Heaven. Huck was glad "because I wanted him and me to be together." One night, after Miss Watson's prayer session with him and the slaves, Huck goes to bed feeling "so lonesome I wished I was dead." He gets shivers hearing the sounds of nature through his window. Huck accidentally icks a spider into a candle, and is frightened by the bad omen. Just after midnight, Huck hears movement below the window, and a "me-yow" sound, that he responds to with another "me-yow." Climbing out the window onto the shed, Huck finds Tom Sawyer waiting for him.

Chapters 2-3 Summary

Huck and Tom tiptoe through the garden. Huck trips on a root as he passes the kitchen. Jim, a "big" slave, hears him from inside. Tom and Huck crouch down, trying to stay still. But Huck is struck by an uncontrollable itch, as always happens when he is in a situation, like when he's "with the quality," where it is bad to scratch. Jim says aloud that he will stay put until he discovers the source of the sound, but after several minutes falls asleep. Tom plays a trick on Jim{putting his hat on a tree branch over his head{and takes candles from the kitchen, over Huck's objections that they will risk getting caught. Later, Jim will say that some witches ew him around the state and put the hat above his head as a calling card. He expands the tale further, becoming a local celebrity among the slaves, who enjoy witch stories. He wears around his neck the five-cent piece Tom left for the candles, calling it a charm from the devil with the power to cure sickness. Jim nearly becomes so stuck-up from his newfound celebrity that he is unfit to be a servant.

Meanwhile, Tom and Huck meet up with a few other boys, and take a boat to a large cave. There, Tom declares his new band of robbers, "Tom Sawyer's Gang." All must sign in blood an oath vowing, among other things, to kill the family of any member who reveals the gang's secrets. The boys think it "a real beautiful oath." Tom admits he got part of it from books. The boys nearly disqualify Huck, who has no family but a drunken father who can never be found, until Huck offers Miss Watson. Tom says the gang must capture and ransom people, though nobody knows what "ransom" means.

Tom assumes it means to kill them. But anyway, it must be done since all the books say so. When one boy cries to go home and threatens to tell the group's secrets, Tom bribes him with five cents. They agree to meet again someday, just not Sunday, which would be blasphemous. Huckleberry makes it back into bed just before dawn.

Miss Watson tries to explain prayer to Huckleberry in Chapter Three. Huckleberry gives up on it after not getting what he prays for. Miss Watson calls him a fool, and explains prayer bestows spiritual gifts like sel essness to help others. Huck cannot see any advantage in this, except for the others one helps. So he resolves to forget it. Widow Douglas describes a wonderful God, while Miss Watson's is terrible. Huck concludes there are two Gods. He would like to belong to Widow Douglas's, if He would take him unlikely because of Huck's bad qualities.

Meanwhile, a rumor circulates that Huck's Pap, who has not been seen in a year, is dead. A corpse was found in the river, thought to be Pap because of its "ragged" appearance, though the face is unrecognizable. At first Huck is relieved. His father had been a drunk who beat him when he was sober, though Huck stayed hidden from him most of the time. Soon, however, Huck doubts his father's death, and expects to see him again.

After a month in Tom's gang, Huck quit along with the rest of the boys. There was no point to it, without any robbery or killing, their activities being all pretend. Once, Tom pretended a caravan of Arabs and Spaniards were going to encamp nearby with hundreds of camels and elephants. It turned out to be a Sunday school picnic. Tom explained it really was a caravan of Arabs and Spaniards - only they were enchanted, like in Don Quixote. Huckleberry judged Tom's stories of genies to be lies, after rubbing old lamps and rings with no result.

Chapters 4-6 Summary

In Chapter Four, Huckleberry is gradually adjusting to his new life, and even making small progress in school. One winter morning, Huck notices boot tracks in the snow near the house. Within one heel print is the shape of two nails crossed to ward off the devil. Huck runs to Judge Thatcher, looking over his shoulder as he does. He sells his fortune to the surprised Judge for a dollar. That night Huck goes to Jim, who has a magical giant hairball from an ox's stomach. Huck tells Jim he found Pap's tracks in the snow and wants to know what his father wants. Jim says the hairball needs money to talk, and so Huck gives a counterfeit quarter. Jim puts his ear to the hairball, and relates that Huck's father has two angels, one black and one white, one bad, one good. It is uncertain which will win out. But Huck is safe for now. He will have much happiness and much sorrow in his life, will marry a poor and then a rich woman, and should stay clear of the water, since that is where he will die. That night, Huck finds Pap waiting in his bedroom!

Pap's long, greasy, black hair hangs over his face. The nearly fifty-year-old man's skin is a ghastly, disgusting white. Noticing Huck's "starchy" clothes, Pap wonders aloud if he thinks himself better than his father, promising to take him "down a peg." Pap promises to teach Widow Douglas not to "meddle" and make a boy "put on airs over his own father." Pap is outraged that Huck has become the first person in his family to learn to read. He threatens Huck not to go near the school again. He asks Huck if he is really rich, as he has heard, and calls him a liar when he says he has no more money.

He takes the dollar Huck got from Judge Thatcher. He leaves to get whiskey, and the next day, drunk, demands Huck's money from Judge Thatcher. The Judge and Widow Douglas try to get custody of Huck, but give up after the new judge in town refuses to separate a father from his son. Pap lands in jail after a drunken spree. The new judge takes Pap into his home and tries to reform him. Pap tearfully repents his ways but soon gets drunk again. The new judge decides Pap cannot be reformed except with a shotgun.

Pap sues Judge Thatcher for Huck's fortune. He also continues to threaten Huck about attending school, which Huck does partly to spite his father. Pap goes on one drunken binge after another. One day he kidnaps Huck and takes him deep into the woods, to a secluded cabin on the Illinois shore. He locks Huck inside all day while he goes out. Huck enjoys being away from civilization again, though he does not like his father's beatings and his drinking. Eventually, Huck finds an old saw hidden away. He slowly makes a hole in the wall while his father is away, resolved to escape from both Pap and the Widow Douglas. But Pap returns as Huck is about to finish. He complains about the "govment," saying Judge Thatcher has delayed the trial to prevent Pap from getting Huck's wealth. He has heard his chances are good, though he will probably lose the fight for custody of Huck. He further rails against a biracial black visitor to the town. The visitor is well dressed, university- educated, and not at all deferential. Pap is disgusted that the visitor can vote in his home state, and that legally he cannot be sold into slavery until he has been in the state six months. Later, Pap wakes from a drunken sleep and chases after Huck with a knife, calling him the "Angel of Death," stopping when he collapses in sleep. Huck holds the ri e against his sleeping father and waits.

Chapters 7-10 Summary

Huck falls asleep, to be awakened by Pap, who is

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