The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapters 17-20 Summary

Chapter seventeen opens with Huck, surrounded by dogs, being questioned as to why he's on the Grangerford property. Huck, once again, gives a fake name and claims he fell off a steamboat. Huck is eventually let into the house and taken by Buck, who is about the same age as Huck, to get some dry clothes. Huck was pleased to have found such a nice family to feed and clothe him. He learned that one of their daughters, Emmeline, had loved to write poetry before she died.

In chapter eighteen Huck introduces more of the Grangerford family, including the patriarch, Colonel Grangerford, his sons Buck and Tom, and his daughters Charlotte and Sophia. Each family member had his own slave; even Huck received a personal slave while he stayed there. One day as Huck and Buck were walking through the woods Harney Shepherdson began to shoot at them. When they told Sophia about it, she seemed concerned. Buck explained to Huck that the Shepherdsons and the Grangerfords had been feuding for thirty years. On Sunday they all went to church. When they returned home, Sophia told Huck that she forgot her Bible at church and asked him to retrieve it for her. When Huck finds it, a piece of paper drops out that says "Half-past two" on it. He took the book to Sophia, who was happy to receive it. Then one of the slaves asked Huck to come to the swamp with him. When Huck got there, he found Jim waiting for him. Jim said the other slaves had been taking care of him by bringing him food while Jim attempted to fix the raft. The following day Huck learns that Sophia had run off to marry Harney Shepherdson, which sets the two families to shooting each other again. Huck hid in a tree for awhile and when he descended, he found Buck had died. Happily, Huck then found Jim by the raft and they set off down the river once more.

In chapter nineteen Huck appreciates the quiet, carefree life of living on a raft. Jim and Huck can do as they please, feeling relaxed and happy. One morning Huck found a canoe and paddled to shore for some berries when two men came running toward him. Being chased by dogs, the men begged Huck to help them. Once aboard the raft, Huck learns that one of the men, who was around seventy years old, had been running a temperance revival while the younger man had been selling an article to take tartar off teeth. They were being chased because the town wanted to tar and feather them since they had conned them out of their money. The younger man then makes the surprising proclamation that he is by birth a duke. He said he preferred to be called "Your Grace" or "Your Lordship," and he was used to being waited on. Huck and Jim were happy to accommodate him. Then the older man reveals that he is actually Louis the XVII, by rights the King of France, so Huck and Jim start taking care of him too. Huck suspects that the men are lying, but he thinks they'll all get along better if he just plays along.

Huck starts chapter twenty by convincing the two men that Jim isn't a runaway slave because why would a runaway be headed south. Huck makes up a story about how his parents died, so it was just he and Jim left. The King and Duke discuss what they're next money making opportunity will be, and they decide to do scenes from Shakespearean plays. Then they stop at a town where the King pretends to be in need to help them collect some money. He made eighty-seven dollars from his revival, which he uses some of to print up reward posters for Jim so that he could walk around with the men during the day although they would have to keep him tied up.

These chapters show Huck's prowess when it comes to dissembling. He easily rattles off lies to the Grangerfords and the King and the Duke or whoever he needs to in order to protect himself or Jim. The easy life that Huck and Jim had been enjoying is put into jeopardy by the destruction of the raft then by the addition of the two con men to their group.

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