Kakos' 6th Hour

Reactions and comments from my sixth hour Honors American Literature class.


My favorite place in the world to be is underwater. My second favorite place is the front of a classroom.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Feel like you're missing something?

If you're having trouble understanding the later chapters in Huck Finn because you missed chapters 31-35, don't worry! You can find concise summaries of these chapters at the following address: http://www.wikisummaries.org/Adventures_of_Huckleberry_Finn
You can find much more detailed summaries at sites such as Sparknotes and Enotes.

In addition, I went through these chapters and typed up my own annotations and passages that I find significant. I have included them below, but I will also give them out in class tomorrow:

Ms. Kakos’ Annotations on the Motif of Huck’s Split Conscience:

Chapter 31
Huck thinks to himself, “A person does a low-down thing, and then he don’t want to take no consequences of it. Thinks as long as he can hide it, it ain’t no disgrace. That was my fix exactly. The more I studied about this, the more my conscience went to grinding me, and the more wicked, and low-down and ornery I got to feeling. And at last, when it hit me all of a sudden that here was the plain hand of Providence slapping me in the face and letting me know my wickedness was being watched all the time from up there in heaven, whilst I was stealing a poor old woman’s nigger that hadn’t ever done me no harm, and now was showing me there’s One that’s always on the lookout…I most dropped in my tracks I was so scared.”

--we see Huck’s growing maturity through his ability to question his “wickedness”
--this realization might come about in this part of the story because Huck has recently left the Duke and King; perhaps Huck was able to define himself as moral only in contrast to them, and without them, he’s left to face and question his own sense of right and wrong.

Chapter 32
In the final paragraph of the chapter, Huck comments, “Being Tom Sawyer was easy and comfortable.”
--this might be an allusion to the difference between The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn and Huck’s own growth between these two books. While the former can be read as a more childlike adventure, the latter is darker, more difficult, and less comfortable (especially in a moral sense).

Chapter 33
At the end of this chapter Huck says, “But that’s always the way; it don’t make no difference whether you do right or wrong, a person’s conscience ain’t got no sense, and just goes for him anyway. If I had a yaller dog that didn’t know no more than a person’s conscience does, I would pison him. It takes up more room than all the rest of a person’s insides, and yet ain’t no good, nohow. Tom Sawyer he says the same.”

--it’s interesting that Huck disguises himself as Tom Sawyer in this chapter, and they sit side by side. Tom Sawyer might be a double for Huck; in other words, Huck has a split sense of self—his morality is being pulled in two opposite directions.
--Huck expresses a desire to return to his former life of ignorant bliss; his struggle with his conscience is causing him pain, and the child him simply wants to get rid of it and return to a simpler life.

Chapter 34
While Tom is set to free Jim, Huck starts to hesitate. He can’t decide whether slavery is morally wrong or freeing a slave is morally wrong. Huck questions Tom’s morality because Tom is eager to set Jim free: “Here was a boy [Tom] that was respectable, and well brung up; and had a character to lose; and folks at home that had characters; and he was bright and not leather-headed; and knowing, and not ignorant; and not mean, but kind; and yet here he was, without any more pride, or rightness, or feeling, than to stoop to this business, and make himself a shame, and his family a shame, before everybody. I couldn’t understand it, no way at all. It was outrageous, and I knowed I ought to just up and tell him so; and so be his true friend, and let him quit the thing right where he was and save himself.”

--thinking back to the last chapters, it seems as though Tom and Huck can be read as two facets of the same character—the division of self.

Chapter 35
--Huck and Tom try to force Jim into the role of the hero, but Jim can’t quite fit their expectations. Tom wishes to cut Jim’s leg off because he’s heard that it’s a famous custom, but he decides against it because “Jim’s a nigger and wouldn’t understand the reasons for it, and how it’s the custom in Europe, so we’ll let it go.”
--Tom goes on to suggest other ridiculous things, like making a rope ladder and delivering it in a pie (even though Jim’s on ground level), and forcing Jim to keep a journal even though he can’t write
--once again, this shows how Jim’s role in this book is awkward—he can be both a Sambo figure (overly obedient, happy, and stupid) and an intelligent, adult man; he can be an almost-hero, but he can’t quite fill the role, at least not the way that Huck, Tom, and the reader want him to.


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