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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Huck is shocked by this: "Tom Sawyer fell, considerable, in my estimation." Tom follows Huck to the Phelps's a half hour later. The isolated family is thrilled to have another guest. Tom introduces himself as William Thompson from Ohio, stopping on his way to visit his uncle nearby. But Tom slips and kisses his aunt, who is outraged by such familiarity from a stranger. Taken aback for a few moments, Tom recovers by saying he is another relative, Sid Sawyer, and this has all been a joke. Later, walking through town, Huck sees the Duke and Dauphin taken by a mob, tarred and feathered on a rail. Jim had told on the pair. Tom feels bad for the two, and his ill feelings toward them melt away. "Human beings can be awful cruel to one another," Huck observes.

Huck concludes that a conscience is useless, since it makes you feel bad for everyone. Tom agrees. Huck is impressed by Tom's intelligence when he skillfully figures out that Jim is being held in a shed. Huck's plan to free Jim is to steal the key and make off with Jim by night. Tom belittles this plan for its simplicity and lack of showmanship. Tom's plan is fifteen times better than Huck's for its style{it might even get all three killed. Meanwhile, Huck is incredulous that respectable Tom is going to sacrifice his reputation by helping a slave escape.

Huck and Tom get Jim's keeper, a superstitious slave, to let them see him. When Jim cries out for joy, Tom tricks Jim's keeper into thinking the cry a trick some witches had played on him. Tom and Huck promise to dig Jim out.

Tom is upset in Chapter Thirty-five. Innocent uncle Phelps has taken so few precautions to guard Jim, they have to invent all the obstacles to his rescue. Tom says they must saw Jim's chain off instead of just lifting it off the bedstead, since that's how it's done in all the books. Similarly, Jim requires a rope ladder, a moat, and a shirt on which to keep a journal, presumably in his own blood. Sawing his leg off to escape would also be a nice touch. But since they're pressed for time, they will dig Jim out with case-knives (large kitchen knives).

Chapters 36-39 Summary

Out late at night, Huck and Tom give up digging with the case-knives after much fruitless efiort. They use pick-axes instead, but agree to "let on"{pretend{that they are using case-knives. The next day, Tom and Huck gather candlesticks, candles, spoons, and a tin plate. Jim can etch a declaration of his captivity on the tin plate using the other objects, then throw it out the window to be read by the world, like in the novels. That night, the two boys dig their way to Jim, who is delighted to see them. He tells them that Sally and Silas have been to visit and pray with him. He doesn't understand the boys' scheme but agrees to go along. Tom thinks the whole thing enormously fun and "intellectural." He tricks Jim's keeper, Nat, into bringing Jim a "witch pie" to help ward off the witches that have haunted Nat.

The missing shirt, candles, sheets, and other articles Huck and Tom stole to give Jim get Aunt Sally mad at everyone but the two boys in Chapter Thirty-seven. To make up, Huck and Tom secretly plug up the holes of the rats that have supposedly stolen everything, confounding Uncle Silas when he goes to do the job. By removing and then replacing sheets and spoons, the two boys so confuse Sally that she loses track of how many she has. It takes a great deal of trouble to put the rope ladder (made of sheets) in the witch's pie, but at last it is finished and they give it to Jim. Tom insists Jim scratch an inscription on the wall of the shed, with his coat of arms, the way the books say. Making the pens from the spoons and candlestick is a great deal of trouble, but they manage. Tom creates an unintentionally humorous coat of arms and set of mournful declarations for Jim to inscribe on the wall. When Tom disapproves of writing on a wooden, rather than a stone wall, they go steal a millstone. Tom then tries to get Jim to take a rattlesnake or rat into the shack to tame, and to grow a ower to water with his tears. Jim protests against the ridiculously unnecessary amount of trouble Tom wants to create. Tom replies that these are opportunities for greatness.

Huck and Tom capture rats and snakes in Chapter Thirty-nine, accidentally infesting the Phelps house with them. Aunt Sally becomes wildly upset when the snakes start to fall from the rafters onto her or her bed. Tom explains that that's just how women are. Jim, meanwhile, hardly has room to move with all the wildlife in his shed. Uncle Silas decides it is time to sell Jim, and starts sending out advertisements. So Tom writes letters, signed an "unknown friend," to the Phelps warning of trouble. The family is terrified. Tom finishes with a longer letter pretending to be from a member of a band of desperate gangsters out to steal Jim. The author has found religion and so is warning them to block the plan.

Chapters 40-43 Summary

Fifteen uneasy local men with guns are in the Phelps's front room. Huck goes to the shed to warn Tom and Jim. Tom is excited to hear about the fifteen armed men. A group of men rush into the shed. In the darkness Tom, Huck, and Jim escape through the hole. Tom makes a noise going over the fence, attracting the attention of the men, who shoot at them as they run. But they make it to the hidden raft, and set off downstream, delighted with their success{especially Tom, who has a bullet in the leg as a souvenir.

Huck and Jim are taken aback by Tom's wound. Jim says they should get a doctor{what Tom would do if the situation were reversed. Jim's reaction confirms Huck's belief that Jim is "white inside."

Huck finds a doctor in Chapter Forty-one and sends him to Tom. The next morning, Huck runs into Silas, who takes him home. The place is filled with farmers and their wives, all discussing the weird contents of Jim's shed, and the hole. They conclude a band of (probably black) robbers of amazing skill must have tricked not only the Phelps and their friends, but the original band of desperadoes. Sally will not let Huck out to find Tom, since she is so sad to have lost Tom and does not want to risk another boy. Huckleberry is touched by her concern and vows never to hurt her again.

Silas has been unable to find Tom in Chapter Forty- two. They have gotten a letter from Tom's Aunt Polly, Sally's sister. But Sally casts it aside when she sees Tom, semi-conscious, brought in on a mattress, accompanied by a crowd including Jim, in chains, and the doctor. Some of the local men would like to hang Jim, but are unwilling to risk having to compensate Jim's master. So they treat Jim roughly, and chain him hand and foot inside the shed. The doctor intervenes, saying Jim isn't bad, since he sacrificed his freedom to help nurse Tom. Sally, meanwhile, is at Tom's bedside, glad that his condition has improved. Tom wakes and gleefully details how they set Jim free. He is horrified to learn that Jim is now in chains. He explains that Jim was freed in Miss Watson's will when she died two months ago.

She regretted ever having considered selling Jim down the river. Just then, Aunt Polly walks into the room. She came after Sally mysteriously wrote her that Sid Sawyer was staying with her. After a tearful reunion with Sally, she identifies Tom and Huckleberry, yelling at both boys for their misadventures. When Huckleberry asks Tom in the last chapter what he planned to do once he had freed the already- freed Jim, Tom replies that he was going to repay Jim for his troubles and send him back a hero. When Aunt Polly and the Phelps hear how Jim helped the doctor, they treat him much better.

Tom gives Jim forty dollars for his troubles. Jim declares that the omen of his hairy chest has come true. Tom makes a full recovery, and has the bullet inserted into a watch he wears around his neck. He and Huck would like to go on another adventure, to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). But Huck worries Pap has taken all his money. Jim tells him that couldn't have happened: the dead body they found way back on the houseboat, that Jim would not let Huck see, belonged to Pap. Huck has nothing more to write about. He is "rotten glad," since writing a book turned out to be quite a task. He does not plan any future writings. Instead, he hopes to make the trip out to Indian Territory, since Aunt Sally is already trying to "sivilize" him, and he's had enough of that.

 

 

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Robert Penn Warren was one of the twentieth century's outstanding men of letters. He found great success as a novelist, a poet, a critic, and a scholar, and enjoyed a career showered with acclaim. He won two Pulitzer Prizes, was Poet Laureate of the United States, and was presented with a Congressional Medal of Fr edom. He founded the Southern Review and was an important contributor to the New Criticism of 1930s and '40s.

Born in 1905, Warren showed his exceptional intelligence from an early age; he attended college at Vanderbilt University, where he befriended some of the most important contemporary figures in Southern literature, including Allan Tate and John Crowe Ransom, and where he won a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University in England. During a stay in Italy, Warren wrote a verse drama called Proud Flesh,which dealt with themes of political power and moral corruption. As a professor at Louisiana State University, Warren had observed the rise of Louisiana political boss Huey Long, who embodied, in many ways, the ideas Warren tried to work into Proud Flesh. Unsatisfied with the result, W

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