The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapter 9 Summary

Instructor: Dori Starnes

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

Huckleberry Finn and the runaway slave Jim must work together when a big flood threatens their safety on the island. This lesson is a summary of Chapter 9 of ''The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.''


Huckleberry Finn grew up wild with his drunken, abusive Pap in Missouri. Just as Huck was starting to become civilized, living with the Widow Douglas and her sister, Miss Watson, Pap shows up again. Huck manages to escape Pap by faking his own death and staying on Jackson's Island in the middle of the Mississippi River. After he's been there a few days, he realizes that he is not alone on the island. Huck finds Jim, Miss Watson's runaway slave, and the two decide to hide out together.

Exploring the Island

Jim and Huck begin to explore the island a bit. There is a place in the middle of the island that Huck wants to see, a hill that is about forty feet taller than the surrounding land.

They have trouble getting up the hill because the sides are very steep and covered in bushes. But they do find a good-sized cavern on the Illinois side of the island. Jim wants to bring in the canoe and their things right away because he thinks it is going to rain. Huck disagrees at first, but Jim prevails. After some discussion, Huck and Jim decide to bring their things to the cavern and make that their home on the island.

There's a nice flat place at the edge of the cavern, and this is where Huck and Jim make their fire. They get their things moved in and eat, and then the storm Jim had promised breaks. They are snug and warm inside the cavern, and spend time watching the lightning.

Huck tells Jim there is nowhere else he'd rather be, and Jim says that without him, Huck would be down in the woods with no dinner, likely drowning in the rain.

Huck and Jim in the Cavern, Illustration by Achille Sirouy, 1886
Huck and Jim in the Cave, illustration 1886

The River Floods

The rain and storms continue, until the river rises and spills over its banks on the Illinois side. The island is covered in three or four feet of water, but the cavern is dry. Huck and Jim take their canoe and paddle all over the island.

The rabbits, snakes, and turtles use the ridge the cavern is in as a resting place now that the water is so high. Huck says the rabbits are tame enough to pet. They also watch the things that float by their island in the flooded river.

One day, they see a raft float by. Huck wishes he could go get it, but he doesn't dare be seen in the daylight. But then they see an old two-story house float by in the hour before daylight, and they take the canoe to check it out.

In the Floating House

When they get to the floating house, it's too dark to see. So Jim and Huck moor up their canoe and wait for daylight. When it gets light they can see inside, and they realize that they aren't alone.

The place is a shambles, and there is a body in the corner. Jim inspects it and tells Huck not to look…it's too gross. Jim throws a handful of rags over the body and they ransack the place.

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