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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unaware of the night's events. Pap sends Huck out to check for fish. Huck finds a canoe drifting in the river and hides it in the woods. When Pap leaves for the day, Huck finishes sawing his way out of the cabin. He puts food, cookware, everything of value in the cabin, into the canoe. He covers up the hole in the wall and then shoots a wild pig. He hacks down the cabin door, hacks the pig to bleed onto the cabin's dirt oor, and makes other preparations so that it seems robbers came and killed him. Huck goes to the canoe and waits for the moon to rise, resolving to canoe to Jackson's Island, but falls asleep. When he wakes he sees Pap row by. Once he has passed, Huck quietly sets out down river. He pulls into Jackson's Island, careful not to be seen.

The next morning in Chapter Eight, a boat passes by with Pap, Judge and Becky Thatcher, Tom Sawyer, his Aunt Polly, some of Huck's young friends, and "plenty more" on board, all discussing the murder. They shoot cannon over the water and oat loaves of bread with mercury inside, in hopes of locating Huck's corpse. Huck, careful not to be seen, catches a loaf and eats it.

Exploring the island, Huck is delighted to find Jim, who at first thinks Huck is a ghost. Now Huck won't be lonely anymore. Huck is shocked when Jim explains he ran away. Jim overheard Miss Watson discussing selling him for eight hundred dollars, to a slave trader who would take him to New Orleans. He left before she had a chance to decide. Jim displays a great knowledge of superstition. He tells Huck how he once "speculated" ten dollars in (live)stock, but lost most of it when the steer died. He then lost five dollars in a failed slave start-up bank. He gave his last ten cents to a slave, who gave it away after a preacher told him that charity repays itself one-hundred-fold. It didn't. But Jim still has his hairy arms and chest, a portent of future wealth. He also now owns all eight-hundred- dollars' worth of himself.

In Chapter Nine, Jim and Huck take the canoe and provisions into the large cavern in the middle of the island, to have a hiding place in case of visitors, and to protect their things. Jim predicted it would rain, and soon it downpours, with the two safely inside the cavern. The river oods severely.

A washed-out houseboat oats down the river past the island. Jim and Huck find a man's body inside, shot in the back. Jim prevents Huck from looking at the face; it's too "ghastly." They make off with some odds and ends. Huck has Jim hide in the bottom of the canoe so he won't be seen. They make it back safely to the cave.

In Chapter Ten, Huck wonders about the dead man, though Jim warns it's bad luck. Sure enough, bad luck comes: as a joke, Huck puts a dead rattlesnake near Jim's sleeping place, and its mate comes and bites Jim. Jim's leg swells, but after four days it goes down. A while later, Huck decides to go ashore and to find out what's new. Jim agrees, but has Huck disguise himself as a girl, with one of the dresses they took from the houseboat.

Huck practices his girl impersonation, then sets out for the Illinois shore. In a formerly abandoned shack, he finds a woman who looks forty, and also appears a newcomer. Huck is relieved she is a newcomer, since she will not be able to recognize him.

Chapters 11-13 Summary

The woman eyes Huckleberry somewhat suspiciously as she lets him in. Huck introduces himself as "Sarah Williams," from Hookerville. The woman "clatters on," eventually getting to Huck's murder. She reveals that Pap was suspected and nearly lynched, but people came to suspect Jim, since he ran away the same day Huck was killed. There is a three- hundred-dollar price on Jim's head. But soon, suspicions turned again to Pap, after he blew money the judge gave him to find Jim on drink. But he left town before he could be lynched, and now there is two hundred dollars on his head. The woman has noticed smoke over on Jackson's Island, and, suspecting that Jim might be hiding there, told her husband to look. He will go there tonight with another man and a gun. The woman looks at Huck suspiciously and asks his name.

He replies, "Mary Williams." When the woman asks about the change, he covers himself, saying his full name is "Sarah Mary Williams." She has him try to kill a rat by pitching a lump of lead at it, and he nearly hits. Finally, she asks him to reveal his (male) identity, saying she understands that he is a runaway apprentice and will not turn him in. He says his name is George Peters, and he was indeed apprenticed to a mean farmer. She lets him go after quizzing him on farm subjects, to make sure he's telling the truth. She tells him to send for her, Mrs. Judith Loftus, if he has trouble. Back at the island, Huck tells Jim they must shove off, and they hurriedly pack their things and slowly ride out on a raft they had found.

Huck and Jim build a wigwam on the raft in Chapter Twelve. They spend a number of days drifting down river, passing the great lights of St. Louis on the fifth night. They "lived pretty high," buying, "borrowing", or hunting food as they need it. One night they come upon a wreaked steamship. Over Jim's objections, Huck goes onto the wreck, to loot it and have an "adventure," the way Tom Sawyer would. On the wreck, Huck overhears two robbers threatening to kill a third so that he won't "talk."

One of the two manages to convince the other to let their victim be drowned with the wreck. They leave. Huck finds Jim and says they have to cut the robbers' boat loose so they can't escape. Jim says that their own raft has broken loose and oated away. Huck and Jim head for the robbers' boat in Chapter Thirteen. The robbers put some booty in the boat, but leave to get some more money off the man on the steamboat. Jim and Huck jump right into the boat and head off as quietly as possible. A few hundred yards safely away, Huck feels bad for the robbers left stranded on the wreck since, who knows, he may end up a robber himself someday. They find their raft just before they stop for Huck to go ashore for help. Ashore, Huck finds a ferry watchman, and tells him his family is stranded on the steamboat wreck. The watchman tell him the wreck is of the Walter Scott. Huck invents an elaborate story as to how his family got on the wreck, including the niece of a local big shot among them, so that the man is more than happy to take his ferry to help. Huck feels good about his good deed, and thinks Widow Douglas would have been proud of him. Jim and Huck turn into an island, and sink the robbers' boat before going to bed.

Chapters 14-16 Summary

Jim and Huck find a number of valuables among the robbers' booty in Chapter Fourteen, mostly trinkets and cigars. Jim says he doesn't enjoy Huck's "adventures," since they risk his getting caught. Huck recognizes that Jim is intelligent, at least for what Huck thinks of a black person. Huck astonishes Jim with his stories of kings. Jim had only heard of King Solomon, whom he considers a fool for wanting to chop a baby in half. Huck cannot convince Jim otherwise. Huck also tells Jim about the "dolphin," son of the executed King Louis XVI of France, rumored to be wandering America. Jim is incredulous when Huck explains that the French do not speak English, but another language. Huck tries to argue the point with Jim, but gives up in defeat.

Huck and Jim are nearing the Ohio River, their goal, in Chapter Fifteen. But one densely foggy night, Huck, in the canoe, gets separated from Jim and the raft. He tries to paddle back to it, but the fog is so thick he loses all sense of direction. After a lonely time adrift, Huck is reunited with Jim, who is asleep on the raft. Jim is thrilled to see Huck alive. But Huck tries to trick Jim, pretending he dreamed their entire separation. Jim tells Huck the story of his dream, making the fog and the troubles he faced on the raft into an allegory of their journey to the free states. But soon Jim notices all the debris, dirt and tree branches, that collected on the raft while it was adrift.

He gets mad at Huck for making a fool of him after he had worried about him so much. "It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a nigger," but Huck apologizes, and does not regret it. He feels bad about hurting Jim. Jim and Huck hope they don't miss Cairo, the town at the mouth of the Ohio River, which runs into the free states. Meanwhile, Huck's conscience troubles him deeply about helping Jim escape from his "rightful owner," Miss Watson, especially after her consideration for Huck. Jim can't stop talking about going to the free states, especially about his plan to earn money to buy his wife and children's freedom, or have some abolitionists kidnap them if their masters refuse. When they think they see Cairo, Jim goes out on the canoe to check, secretly resolved to give Jim up. But his heart softens when he hears Jim call out that he is his only friend, the only one to keep a promise to him. Huck comes upon some men in a boat who want to search his raft for escaped slaves. Huck pretends to be grateful, saying no one else would help them. He leads them to believe his family, on board the raft, has smallpox. The men back away, telling Huck to go further downstream and lie about his family's condition to get help. They leave forty dollars in gold out of pity. Huck feels bad for having done wrong by not giving Jim up.

But he realizes that he would have felt just as bad if he had given Jim up. Since good and bad seem to have the same results, Huck resolves to

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