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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapter 37 Summary

Instructor: Molly Richards

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

In Chapter 37 of ''The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,'' the Phelps find themselves going crazy when items start disappearing around the house, while a guilty Tom and Huck wait for the perfect moment to take those items to Jim for his escape.

Background

It would have been easy to let Jim simply escape once the boys had dug a hole under his cabin, but Tom Sawyer had an idea for a much more complicated getaway. In Tom's mind, an escape is not an escape without an adventure! Huck Finn and Jim went along with Tom's elaborate plan because he is the educated one among them. Tom's plan was to sneak items to Jim: broken pieces of a candlestick to write with, tin pans and a shirt to write on, and a rope ladder for escaping. How to get these items to Jim? It would have been too easy to bring them into the cabin themselves, so Tom suggested they sneak them in with the three people who visited Jim the most: the slave Nat, uncle Silas, and aunt Sally.

Clever Rats

Tom and Huck do not waste any time putting their plan into place. The first chance they get, they begin hiding items: a nail for writing, in aunt Sally's apron; and a spoon, in uncle Silas's coat pocket. But before the Phelps go down to visit Jim, aunt Sally comes in from the kitchen fuming mad because she cannot find uncle Silas's other shirt. Huck chokes on his food (literally) because it was he who took the shirt from the clothesline a few days earlier.

Lucky for the boys though, aunt Sally blames the missing shirt on uncle Silas, who cannot remember if or how he lost it. But it is not just the shirt that aunt Sally is upset about. She has also lost a spoon, six candles, a candlestick, and a sheet. Sally guesses that maybe the rats got away with the candles, and Silas takes the blame for not stopping the rat holes up. The boys watch in awe as the two banter back and forth and blame the vermin.

While the two argue, uncle Silas slips his hand into his pocket and pulls out the missing spoon. Aunt Sally has a heyday yelling at him and blaming him for likely taking the other things as well; Silas can do nothing but apologize. He is not sure how the spoon got there, but he apologizes anyway. He thinks that maybe he mistakenly put the spoon in his pocket when he meant to grab his Bible.

A Good Deed

When Tom and Huck find a chance to talk, they decide that sending things to Jim by way of uncle Silas is probably not a good idea anymore. But since he did take the blame for Tom and Huck (without knowing it), the boys decide to help him out and plug up the rat holes without Silas knowing. After about an hour they finish, and hearing Silas come down the steps into the cellar, the boys blow out their candle and hide in the corner, while Silas examines each hole. He stands there, scratches his head, and mutters how he cannot, for the life of him, remember when he patched the holes up. Surely he is losing his mind.

Counting Spoons

After Silas leaves, Tom tells Huck they still need to get a spoon down to Jim. Tom knows just how to do it too. Upstairs again, Tom starts counting spoons and Huck slides one up his sleeve. Aunt Sally comes in and Tom tells her that there are actually only nine spoons, not ten. She tells him he is crazy because she has just counted them, but she counts them again anyway and finds that there are only nine. Now, feeling like she is losing her mind, she goes to count them again, and Huck slips the missing spoon back in, so that she counts ten. Tom tells her that no, there are only nine and she needs to count them one more time, and so she begins again. Huck slips the spoon up his sleeve as she counts, so that sure enough she counts only nine again. Sally gets so mad, she throws the spoon basket across the room and orders the boys to leave and not come back until dinner time. While she's yelling at them, the boys slip the spoon into her apron pocket. When she goes to visit him, Jim sneaks the spoon and the other nail from her apron, just as the boys had planned.

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