The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapters 13-16 Summary

In chapter thirteen Huck and Jim hop in the lifeboat and take off away from the steamboat, leaving the robbers behind. They come across their own raft and pile some of the loot that the robbers had put into the life boat onto their raft. Huck then takes the lifeboat up to a ferry boat and tells the men there that his family is stuck on the steamboat that wrecked up ahead. Then he returns to Jim, they sink the life boat, and find an island where they can get some sleep.

Huck and Jim begin chapter fourteen by going through the loot they got from the robbers. Then they have a conversation about kings and languages. Jim doesn't understand that not everyone in the world speaks the same language. After arguing with Jim for awhile, Huck decides that Jim is too uneducated to understand complicated concepts, so Huck shouldn't bother.

In chapter fifteen, Huck and Jim realize they are approaching Cairo, which is at the bottom of Illinois where the Mississippi intersects with the Ohio River, which is where they want to turn off and head north toward the free states. Huck rides in the canoe for awhile while Jim is floating on the raft, and they become separated in a fog. Huck decides to take a cat nap and when he wakes up, he sees Jim. He decides to play a trick on him by telling him that he'd been there the whole time, there was no fog, and Jim must have dreamed the whole thing. Jim finally realizes that Huck was lying to him, and he calls him trash. Huck feels ashamed and eventually forces himself to apologize and pledges not to play any more tricks on Jim.

Chapter sixteen begins with Huck wrestling with his conscience. He feels bad for helping to steal away Miss Watson's slave when she had always taken care of him. Huck feels even worse when Jim talks about buying back his wife and two children because Huck believes helping a black man to escape slavery is wrong. Essentially he is breaking the law and hurting the slave's owner, who helped raise Huck, and he feels horrible about what he is doing. He decides he should paddle ashore and tell someone, but Jim tells him how grateful he is to have a white man helping him to gain his freedom, which makes Huck feel sick about his decision. As he's paddling to shore, Huck is stopped by two men with guns who ask who is on the raft that Huck left behind. Huck lies and says his father is on there, but he's sick. Huck claims he has small pox, which the men don't want to catch, so they float a twenty dollar gold piece to Huck and tell him to stay away. Huck feels bad about protecting Jim, but he reasons it's best to do whatever is easiest in life, and in this case it was easier to just lie. Jim overheard the whole conversation and wants to use the money to take a steamboat to the free states. Huck and Jim reach Cairo and debate how to continue since they can't float up the river. When they look for their possessions, they find the canoe is gone. They hop on and a soon a steamboat is heading right for them. Jim jumps off one side and Huck jumps off the other just before their raft is smashed to pieces. Huck swims ashore and calls for Jim, but he doesn't get a response. He walks up and finds a log house and before he knows it a group of barking dogs has surrounded him.

Huck grapples a great deal with his morals in these chapters. Is it wrong for a black man to be someone's slave? Or is it wrong to help a black man escape slavery? These questions reflect the time period and how many people were starting to realize the injustice of slavery. Huck is a perfect protagonist in this case since he is young and innocent. He wants to do what is right, but he is unsure of what that is. Children often learn what is right and wrong from their parents, but Huck hasn't had parents around for most of his life. He knows that Jim is a good person and likely considers him a friend, and he doesn't want to do anything to hurt his friend, no matter what his skin color is. In this sense, Huck represents the morals of Mark Twain and how the author is trying to show his readers that African Americans are just people who are often hardworking and kind and deserve the same freedom that the white people have.

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