The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapter 10 Summary

Instructor: Dori Starnes

Dori has taught college and high school English courses, and has Masters degrees in both literature and education.

Huck has been lucky up until now, managing to escape his Pap and the people looking for him, and then finding Jim on the island. But his luck is about to run out. This lesson focuses on the summary of Chapter 10 of ''The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.''


Huckleberry Finn has had some rotten things happen to him in his 14 years of life. Raised by his abusive and alcoholic father, Pap Finn, Huck has been able to escape by faking his own death and hiding out on Jackson's Island. There, he finds escaped slave Jim, and the two hide out together. When the Mississippi River floods, they find a floating house with all sorts of stuff, and a dead body, inside. Huck and Jim take whatever they can and make it back to their island.

Bad Luck A-comin'

In the morning after breakfast, Huck tries to get Jim to talk about the dead man. Jim refuses, claiming it will bring bad luck. Jim will not be swayed, so the two of them search through all the things they've taken. Huck finds eight dollars in silver sewn into the lining of a coat, and claims they will have good luck now.

Huck uses this as an opportunity to tease Jim a bit. He reminds Jim about the snakeskin he found on the ridge two days prior. Huck had picked it up with his bare hands, which Jim said was the worst luck of all. Well, Huck challenges Jim, where is that bad luck now?

Jim replies that it is coming.

Jim Gets Bit by a Snake, Illustration by Achille Sirouy, 1886
Jim get bit by the snake

Jim in Trouble

They don't have long to wait for bad luck. It's on Tuesday that they rummage through the floating house and have the conversation about handling snakeskin. On Friday, the bad luck catches up with them, though what occurs has more to do with Huck's stupidity than with bad luck.

On Friday afternoon, Huck sees a rattlesnake in their cavern. He kills the poisonous snake and curls it up on Jim's bedroll as a joke, and forgets about the snake.

Well, by Friday night, Huck has forgotten about his prank with the snake. The dead snake's mate has curled up next to it, and when Jim gets into bed, the snake bites him. Jim jumps up yelling, and Huck immediately sees what has happened. He kills the snake while Jim downs some of Pap's whiskey. Huck roasts a piece of the snake on Jim's orders, and Jim eats it in hopes of keeping the venom at bay.

Huck throws the snake far away from their cavern, and Jim keeps drinking. His foot and leg swell up, but the whiskey finally knocks him out. Huck muses that he'd rather be bit by a snake than drink that whiskey.

The Amazing Catfish

For four days, Jim is incapacitated by the snake bite. When Jim recovers, Huck tells him he will never touch a snake again. Jim says maybe from now on Huck will believe him.

As the days pass, the river recedes back to its normal depth. Huck and Jim, using a rabbit as bait, catch a catfish that is as big as a man. It is more than six feet long and weighs more than 200 pounds. In its stomach, Huck and Jim find a ball with a spool inside; Jim guesses that the spool must have been inside the fish a long time for it to have been coated enough to turn into a ball. They wish they could sell the catfish to the townspeople, because they could make a lot of money on it.

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