The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn


Chapter 36 to Chapter 43

Chapter 36

The boys begin digging in the middle of the night with the case knives Huck has swiped from the house. However, they quickly realize that it will take them nearly four decades to dig Jim out with such tools.

Tom reluctantly agrees to use the picks and shovels to dig with, but he still insists that they pretend they are using knives—out of principle, Huck suspects. After a couple hours of digging, Tom and Huck manage to dig their way into Jim’s shack and wake him up. He is happy to see them and tells them that Aunt Sally and Uncle Silas have been very good to him. He is excited about escaping, however, and tells the boys to hunt up a chisel to get the chain off his leg. This idea does not appeal to Tom, because it lacks complications. Tom insists that Jim needs more things smuggled into him before he could be sprung.

One morning while Tom and Huck and consulting with Jim, a pack of dogs follows them through the hole they have dug and pile up under Jim’s bed, frightening Nat, who is with them again. The slave again suspects witches are up to something.

Chapter 37

The absurdities of Tom’s plan continue to pile one upon another. Meanwhile, Aunt Sally notices a number of items that are missing: one of Silas’ shirts, a sheet, spoons, and candles. Uncle Silas fishes a spoon out of his pocket and cannot imagine how it got there.

Tom decides that they must put some things back so as to cover their tracks and keep Aunt Sally from knowing just how many things she has and has not. At the same time, the boys set to work on a pie in which they plan to stuff the sheet rope. Unfortunately, they have enough rope for forty pies—but only one pie.

Nat does not observe the boys as they slip the pie to Jim, and Jim, in turn, scratches marks on tin pans and tosses them out the window (as per Tom’s instructions).

In one sense, the continued (and unnecessary) enslavement of Jim may be viewed as representative of the issue overall....

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