The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapter 8 Summary

Instructor: Dori Starnes

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

The whole town thinks Huckleberry Finn is dead, but his adventures are just beginning. Huck makes it to Jackson Island, but soon discovers he is not alone. This lesson will focus on the summary of Chapter 8 of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Review

Huckleberry Finn had found a treasure and was beginning to become accustomed to life in town when his no-good Pap showed back up. Though Pap kept him locked in and beat him regularly, Huck managed to escape the cabin where Pap had been keeping him and faked his own death. Though he was almost caught by some men, and had to hide in a drifting canoe as his father paddled by, Huck made it to the deserted Jackson's Island in the middle of the Mississippi River, between Illinois and Missouri, and quickly fell asleep.

Searching for Huck's Body

Huck wakes up on Jackson's Island. Everything is peaceful and calm, and Huck really doesn't want to get up. Just as he's drifting off to sleep again, a loud BOOM startles him wide awake. Huck creeps to the edge of the island and lies hidden in the brush. He hears the sound again and sees a ferry boat full of people. He realizes what they are doing: they are firing the cannon and searching for his body.

Huck's hungry, but he doesn't dare start a fire for fear of catching their attention. But as he hides and watches them, Huck remembers that another way to search for a dead body is to float a loaf of bread with quicksilver (or mercury, a pretty toxic substance) inside in the hopes that it will float to the location of the body.

Huck hurries to the other side of the island. Sure enough, he sees loaves of bread floating by. He misses the first loaf but catches the second and pulls the metal out. Huck has a fine, if somewhat soggy, breakfast. Huck enjoys watching the townspeople searching for him. The ferry gets closer and he sees almost everyone from town aboard, including Tom Sawyer, Judge Thatcher, and his Pap.

Then they draw so close to the island that Huck freezes, hoping his cover of bushes is enough to keep him hidden. It works, but then they fire a cannon so close to him that Huck thinks they might find his body after all. Eventually, they give up and go home, and Huck relaxes.

Life on the Island

Huck goes about getting himself settled on the island. He makes a tent out of his blanket and sets traps for fish. He catches a catfish and cooks himself dinner, then sits under the stars and smokes, thinking about how fine life can be.

For three days, Huck lives like a king on the island. He eats fish and the wild fruit he finds growing, including strawberries, grapes, and raspberries. Then Huck comes across the still-warm ashes of a fire that isn't his.

He is not alone on the island.

In Hiding

Huck rushes back to his camp, convinced every stump he sees is a person. He quickly hides the evidence that he has been there and climbs up in a tree to wait. Huck watches for more than two hours, but doesn't see anything. Hunger finally drives him from the tree.

Huck gets into his canoe and heads to the Illinois shore. But people are there and he has trouble finding a safe spot to sleep. In the middle of a restless night, Huck vows to head back to Jackson's Island and see who has been there.

Huck searches the island for the remainder of the night. Just as dawn is breaking, he sees a man wrapped in a blanket next to a fire. Huck watches, and when the man stretches and drops the blanket, Huck recognizes him as Miss Watson's slave, Jim.

Jim and Huck on the Island
Jim and Huck on the island

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