The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapter 29 Summary

Instructor: Molly Richards

Molly has ten years of middle school teaching experience and two master's degrees in teaching.

In Chapter 29 of Mark Twain's ''The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,'' the game of lies the duke and the king play to swindle the town gets even murkier as two new men arrive claiming to be the Wilks brothers. Will Huck be able to expose the duke and the king once and for all?


After accidentally spilling the beans to an upset Mary Jane, Huck thought he had found a way out for both himself and Jim. Mary Jane promised to let Huck escape to help his friend, and Huck reassured her that the truth would come out about the two frauds. Huck was too embarrassed to tell Mary Jane where he hid the money, so he wrote it on a piece of paper and asked her not to read it until later. The auction on the estate began, and the so-called true Wilks brothers arrived on steamboat.

Who's Who?

With the auction underway, the duke and the king walk around confidently, each playing the part. What they do not know is that two men have just arrived, claiming to be the real Wilks brothers. One of the men begins to speak in an authentic English accent and tells the crowd that he is Harvey, a brother of the late Peter Wilks. The man with him is their other brother, William, who is unable to communicate because he is mute and, having broken his arm, cannot sign either.

The king laughs at these ''imposters'' but some of the people in the crowd begin to doubt the king and duke's story. They start questioning them about how and when they arrived. The doctor, one of the original doubters, does not want the men out of his sight until they determine if they are Peter Wilks's real brothers. They all head to the tavern to straighten things out. Once there, the doctor asks the king to show him the money.

Oh the money... Remember the bag of money that Huck took from the king and duke's bedroom? He tried to give it to Mary Jane but did not get very far and ended up putting it in Peter Wilks's coffin. The king tells the doctor that the money has been stolen by the slaves they sold off the other morning - the same story Huck told the duke and the king when they questioned him about it.

The Long Debate

The three men (remember William cannot see or hear) debate back and forth about who the real Wilks brothers are. Although he wants to stay out of it, Huck is pulled into the debate, and he plays along. No one believes Huck's lies though, and the doctor finally tells Huck to sit down.

But how to solve this problem of who is who? Peter's lawyer friend decides to have the men write a couple of lines and sign their names on a piece of paper. He does this in order to compare each man's writing to letters Peter received from his real brothers. Right away the duke and the king are called out for their handwriting, but so is Harvey. Harvey tries to explain that William usually writes the letters, but can't because of his broken arm, making a sticky situation even stickier.

The Truth in Ink

Harvey comes up with another idea. He asks the group who helped prepare his brother for burial. Two men answer that they did. Harvey then asks the king what kind of tattoo Peter had on his breast. The king tells the crowd that the tattoo is of a blue arrow, but Harvey tells everyone that it is Peter's initials, P-B-W. With different versions, all eyes are on the undertakers, who surprise everyone by saying there was no tattoo at all, making all four men look like frauds.

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