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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapter 14 Summary

Instructor: Dori Starnes

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

Huck and Jim, safe from the wreckage of the old steamboat, take some time to rest and have a very interesting discussion. This lesson will focus on the summary of Chapter 14 of ''The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn''.

Review

Huckleberry Finn and the escaped slave Jim had a close call while travelling down the Mississippi River. They tied up their raft and boarded a wrecked steamboat because Huck wanted an adventure. But when they found themselves stranded with murderers on a breaking-up boat, the adventure quickly soured. Huck's quick thinking saved them, and they got away in a skiff with the murderers' loot. Though Huck sends a ferryman out after the stranded murderers, the wreck breaks up and floats past them in the dark. It's obvious no one has survived. Huck and Jim make it to shore, where they collapse in exhaustion.

The Loot

Huck and Jim wake up and decide to go through the things the gang of murderers had stolen from the steamboat. When they see what they now own, they are shocked. It's more than either of them has ever had: books, clothing, boots, and even three boxes of cigars.

Huck and Jim laze the afternoon away, with Huck reading the books aloud and talking about the adventure they'd had inside the boat. Jim says if that is adventure, he doesn't want any more. He tells Huck that when he found the raft gone, it about killed him because he figured he'd either die on the wreck, drown in the river, or end up sold anyhow. Huck realizes Jim's right, and he thinks that Jim's pretty level-headed…for a slave, anyhow.

Jim and Huck having a discussion.
Jim and Huck having a discussion by Achille Sirouy 1886.

King Solomon's Harem

Huck reads all about kings from the books to Jim, and Jim is very interested because he's never heard of any king besides King Solomon from the Bible. He wants to know how much money a king gets, and Huck answers that since everything belongs to the king, he gets as much as he wants.

Well, Jim asks logically, then what do kings do? He's not satisfied with Huck's answer that they do nothing except hang around their harems. The whole idea of a harem mystifies Jim, who observes it must be a very noisy and quarrelsome place with all the wives and children.

Then Huck tells Jim the famous story about the two women who claimed the same baby, and how King Solomon's wise judgement was to cut the child in two. Jim says it makes no sense since half a child is of no use to anyone.

Huck sighs and tells Jim he's missed the point. King Solomon didn't really want to kill the child. He was sure the real mother would give the baby away rather than see it hurt. Jim disagrees, and tells Huck that King Solomon didn't really care for any of his children because he had so many. If he had only one or two, he'd have been more careful of their welfare.

Polly voo-franzy?

Huck gives up trying to reason with Jim about King Solomon and tells him about the execution of King Louis XVI during the French Revolution, and how his son, the dauphin (though Huck calls the boy a 'dolphin'), was put in prison and probably died there, too.

Jim feels bad for the murdered prince until Huck tells him that the boy may have escaped and made it to America. Jim asks what the boy would do for a living.

Huck says he would either be a police officer or teach people to speak French. Jim doesn't understand that people talk differently in other parts of the world. He asks: 'Why, Huck, doan' de French people talk de same way we does?'

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