The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapter 35 Summary

Instructor: Molly Richards

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

With Jim's escape plot turning out to be way too easy, a determined Tom ensures Huck that their plan will include all the difficulty and adventures that escape plans are supposed to entail.

An Easy Plan

After locating Jim in a cabin on the Phelps's plantation, Tom and Huck set about making plans for his escape. Huck mentions that the window of the cabin might be large enough for Jim to climb through, making for an easy escape. But that's exactly why Tom doesn't like it -- it's too easy. They walk around to the other side and discover a shed built up next to the cabin. Tom decides they will dig Jim out from inside the shed, and that it will take about a week.

Invent all the Difficulties

At dawn the next day, Tom and Huck head down to the woods to start their digging. Tom explains to Huck that their escape plan is still way too easy. There is no watchman or watchdog to drug, and the chain around Jim's leg is tied around a bedpost -- move the bed and the chain slips off. His Uncle Silas trusts the superstitious slave with the key to the cabin every day, and he could easily help Jim escape. According to Tom, ''You got to invent all the difficulties...There's more honor in getting him out through a lot of difficulties and dangers.'' So he and Huck will have to do the best they can to make a simple plan much more complex.

Tom tells Huck they need to make a saw to get the chain off Jim's leg. Huck reminds Tom that he said the chain could simply be slipped off when the bed is raised. Tom chastises him for not reading more, because that is not how it is done in the great stories. His imagination races as he begins to tell Huck the way the story should go -- they saw the bed in two, then put it back together again so no one knows the difference, and then escape across the moat onto their horses and ride away. Tom thinks a moat around the cabin would be a really nice touch. He even mentions that maybe they should saw Jim's leg off.

Huck's practicality makes him question Tom's plan. Saw Jim's leg off? Leave a rope ladder as a clue for the authorities when they discover Jim is missing? And why not a hickory ladder? But Huck knows that Tom is the brains and has experience in these things. So he agrees to steal a sheet from the clothesline. Tom tells Huck to grab a shirt too, for Jim to keep a journal he can write on with his blood.

Beginning Tasks

The breakfast horn sounds, and the two leave their work to go eat. Huck 'borrows' a sheet and shirt from the clothesline. But Tom tells him it is not borrowing when helping a prisoner escape, it is stealing. And even though stealing is okay when helping a prisoner escape, Tom gets mad at Huck the next day for stealing a watermelon from the slave vegetable patch. Tom explains that stealing what is necessary is different than stealing a watermelon. He insists that Huck give the slaves a dime for the fruit.

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