Mark Twain – Huckleberry Finn, Chapters 1-4

Chapter 1 – Civilizing Huck – Miss Watson – Tom Sawyer Waits

  • Huck explains his appearance in “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which he says is mostly true but Mr. Twain embellished some of it.
    • The end of “Tom Sawyer” has Tom & Huck finding money robbers hid in a cave. They got $6000 each, which was invested on their behalf, giving them $1 a day to live on.
    • Huck went to live with Widow Douglas where she tried to “sivilize” him. He couldn’t stand the stuffy circumstances & ran off. Tom convinced him to go back so they could form a “band of robbers”.
  • The widow had him dress in fancy clothes, eat at a regular time & say grace before the meal. He preferred a freer & less civilized way of life. She forbade him to smoke even though she took snuff herself.
    • The widow’s sister, Miss Watson, also tried to teach him to spell, & they both gave him religious instruction. Huck saw no point in reading about Moses because he didn’t see the point in what dead people had done or said. There was always some behavior of his that the 2 sisters tried to correct. They talked to him of heaven & hell. Huck found heave to be boring & when he was told that Tom would probably be going to hell, Huck preferred to go there instead.
  • Once the slaves were brought in & all the prayers were said, Huck sat by the window & stared at the stars, listening to all the natural noises outside, wondering what was going on. He was lonely & restless.
    • Then at the stroke of midnight, he heard a voice meowing outside. Huck meowed back, put out his light & slipped through the window to see Tom Sawyer.

Chapter 2 – The Boys Escape Jim — Tom Sawyer’s Gang — Deep-laid Plans

  • Tom & Huck tiptoed out the back of the house. As they passed the kitchen, Huck tripped & made a noise.
    • Miss Watson’s slave, Jim, heard the noise & called out to see who was there. Jim stayed there, eventually falling asleep.
    • Tom wanted to tie Jim to a tree trunk but Huck thought it was too risky. Tom went in to get more candles & left a nickel. Huck waited while Tom was playing his prank.
    • Tom was able to tie Jim up without waking him. Jim would later claim that witches put him into a trance & rode him all over the state & put him by the tree. Jim also claimed the witches took him to New Orleans, & later all over the world. The other slaves loved to come by & listen to his witch stories, & look at the nickel he kept around his neck.
  • Tom & Huck went to the hilltop to look down on the village. They went down to meet with Jo Harper, Ben Rogers & some other boys. They took a small boat down the river 2.5 miles down, & went ashore.
    • Tome made them swear to keep secret a hole in the bushes that led 200 yards into a cave. He addressed the boys, establishing “Tom Sawyer’s Gang”, requiring them to take an oath & write their names in blood. This meant keeping secrets & avenging any member’s death. Tattletales would be killed, cursed forever, & their families would be killed (Huck didn’t have family so they designated Miss Watson as his “family”). Tom took half of all this from books he’d read & the other half he made up.
    • They argued about what they were going to do. Tom insisted it would be just robbery & murder. They would be highwaymen, stopping stagecoaches & carriages with masks on, killing people for their money & jewelry.
    • They talked of ransoming people but they didn’t know what ransom was. They weren’t keen on killing women but if they kept too many people in the caves, including ransoms & women, it would get to crowded.
  • At this point, Tommy Barnes fell asleep. The others woke him up. He cried & said he wanted to go home. This made the others laugh & tease him until he threatened to tell all their secrets. Tom bribed him with 5¢ to keep quiet.
  • They had trouble scheduling the next meeting. Eventually, they all went home.

Chapter 3 – A Good Going-over —Grace Triumphant —”One of Tom Sawyer’s Lies”

  • Miss Watson scolded Tuck for his dirty clothes. The widow cleaned the grease off of him & felt bad that Huck couldn’t behave himself.
    • Miss Watson took Huck into the closet to pray. She told him you pray to get what you want. It didn’t work for Huck because he got a fishing line but no hooks – you can’t fish without hooks. He wondered why people didn’t ask for lost money or objects back. The explained that prayer was for “spiritual gift”. Huck didn’t understand. So the widow told him that he had to help others & not think of himself, which seemed to him to help only others & not him. Huck didn’t like lectures on God & figured nobody really knew very much about him & gave up on the subject.
  • Huck’s father hadn’t been seen in a year, & that suited Huck fine. He’d beat Huck even when he was sober, causing him to run off into the woods when he was around.
    • A body was found floating in the river. People said it was his father but the face was disfigured. Huck was sure it wasn’t his father & guess he’d turn up sooner or later alive & well.
  • The boys had been playing robbers for a month when Huck quit. They hadn’t robbed or killed anyone, only scaring hog drovers & women taking food to the market.
    • Tom gathered the gang to discuss a group of Spanish merchants & rich Arabs traveling with elephants, camels & pack mules with diamonds they would ambush.
    • Huck complained that they hadn’t been able to knock over a turnip cart & they never rob that size of a group with swords & guns (really lathes & broomsticks). They wouldn’t beat a bunch of Spaniards & Arabs but he wanted to see camels & elephants, so he showed up.
      • But when he showed up, there weren’t any Spaniards, Arabs, camels or elephants. They only busted up a Sunday School class picnic. They chased the kids into the woods but only got doughnuts & jam off them. Ben Rogers got a rag doll & Jo Harper a hymnbook. The teacher made them give it back & leave.
      • Huck didn’t see any diamonds. Tom said they were there, as well as Arabs, elephants, etc. IF only Huck had read Don Quixote, he’d understand that enemy magicians turned the whole thing into Sunday School class out of spite.
      • Tom explained that magicians could call up genies. Huck suggested they get the genies to help them since they have to help whoever summons them up.
      • Huck found an old lamp a few days later. He rubbed it while making up his fantastical plans, but there was no genie. It was just one of Tom Sawyer’s lies.

Ch. 4 – Huck and the Judge — Superstition

  • 3 or 4 months later, it was winter. Huck was learning a lot at school with mixed results, especially in Math. He wasn’t happy at first but learned how to deal with it. When he got tired, he’d skip class & go take a nap. But he got used to going.
    • He got used to the widow, living in a house & sleeping in a bed. Before the weather got cold, he slept out in the woods. But the indoor life & the widow’s house grew on him & he was growing on the widow.
    • One day, he knocked over the salt & threw some over his should for good luck. Miss Watson scolded him but the widow stepped in for him.
    • But Huck felt a spate of bad luck coming on.
  • He went down through the garden & saw footprints in the snow near the stile. He looked at the tracks – there was a cross in the heel to ward off the devil. He looked over his shoulder & ran to Judge Thatcher’s house.
    • Judge Thatcher asked him why he was there. Apparently, he hadn’t picked any up in 6 months. Huck wanted Thatcher to keep all the interest & the $6000 as well. He didn’t want to explain anything. Judge Thatcher took a moment & began to understand. He “bought” Huck’s property for $1 & gave him a receipt.
  • Miss Watson’s slave, Jim, had a hairball he’d gotten from an ox’s stomach & used it for magic. He said there was a spirit in it that knew everything.
    • Huck said he saw his father’s footprints. He wanted to know what his father was going to do & how long he was going to stay.
    • Jim got out the hairball & said something over it & dropped it on the ground. He got down to listen to it but it didn’t say anything. Sometimes it needed money to talk. Huck offered a counterfeit quarter. They stuck it in a raw Irish potato that would take the grease off.
    • Jim put the quarter under the hairball & told Huck: Your father doesn’t know what he’s going to do. Just let him do whatever he’s going to do. He has a good angel & a bad angel. No one knows which one he’s going to follow. But you’ll be all right. You will have trouble in life & will get hurt but you’ll survive. You’ll have 2 women in your life – one good & one bad – one rich & one poor. Just keep them away from the water & don’t get yourself hanged.
      • Huck went into his room & there sat his father on his bed.


Author: knowit68

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