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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapter 6 Summary

Instructor: Dori Starnes

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

This lesson focuses on Chapter 6 of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, where Huck realizes his life depends on figuring out a way to escape the cabin where he is being held and his father (Pap) whose abuse is escalating.

Review of Chapter 6

Huckleberry Finn has had some really rotten stuff happen to him in his short life. Though he and his friend Tom Sawyer find a fortune, and Huck goes to live with the widow and her sister Miss Watson, all the trouble in the world finds poor Huck when his drunken and abusive father, Pap Finn, returns to town. Though the widow and Judge Thatcher try to prevent it, Pap claims Huck and sets about ruining his life.

Life With Pap

The widow tells Pap that he needs to stop hanging around her place, or else there will be trouble. While the widow no doubt says it to protect Huck, it has the opposite effect. Pap decides that no one but him will be the boss of Huckleberry Finn, and he lies in wait for Huck.

Pap catches Huck and brings him across the river to the Illinois side. They live in a deserted cabin. Pap has a stolen gun and he hunts and fishes for their living. Huck is unable to escape him, and after a while he doesn't want to leave anymore.

Often, Pap locks Huck in the cabin and returns to town, where he trades fish and whatever he has managed to hunt for alcohol. Then Pap comes home, gets drunk, and takes a cowhide whip to poor Huck.

The widow finds out where Huck is and sends a man after him, but Pap drives the man away with his shotgun. Huck isn't too upset by this, though; he likes his life with Pap except for the cowhide.

Two months pass, and Huck is glad to have nothing to do but to sit and smoke. His clothes get ragged, and he loses what civilization the widow and Miss Watson have managed to impart. He even starts cussing again.

Time to Get Out

While Huck is happy with his lack of school and discipline, he's not thrilled with the beatings Pap gives him, which have increased in frequency. Huck says he's ''all over welts'' and starts to think about escape.

Pap has also been leaving Huck locked alone in the cabin for longer and longer stretches. After being locked in for three days, Huck realizes that he needs to finds a way out. The windows in the cabin are too small for him to climb out, the door is too thick, and even the chimney is too narrow. Huck spends his time searching for something that will help him escape.

Finally, he finds something: an old rusty saw tucked up in the rafters. It has no handle, but Huck takes it out and greases it, and starts to saw through one of the boards at the back of the house. But, just as he's almost finished, he hears Pap coming back. Huck hides the saw just in time.

An illustration of Huck and Pap Finn, 1886
Huck and Pap Finn

Pap Comes Back

Pap is in a foul mood. He tells Huck that while he still hopes to win the money Huck had signed over to the judge, the trial keeps getting delayed. Then he mentions that the widow and Judge Thatcher are going to try to get custody of Huck again, and this time they will probably win…Pap hasn't exactly been behaving himself. This concerns Huck because he doesn't want to go back to the widow's house and civilization.

But he doesn't want to stay with Pap, either. Pap scoffs at the widow's plans, and tells Huck he'll take him some place where they will never find him. That worries Huck, too, but he decides to leave before that happens.

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