Study Guide

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapter 12

By Mark Twain

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Chapter 12

  • Huck and Jim raft away down the river, with Missouri on one side and Illinois on the other.
  • They travel at night, tying the raft to the shore and covering it up during the day.
  • Some nights, Huck lands at a nearby town to buy food or occasionally steal a chicken. His father, he says, told him that you might as well steal a chicken whenever you can, because if you don't want it yourself, you can give it away.
  • More good moral lessons from Pap: stealing is really "borrowing," as long as you "intended" on giving it "back" sometime.
  • The widow, on the other hand, correctly identifies this as "stealing."
  • Jim offers a compromise: they should pick three things they won't steal anymore, and everything else will be fine.
  • Great! Now that's settled.
  • A little later, the pair comes across a wrecked steamship in the middle of a thunderstorm.
  • Huck wants to land and plunder, but Jim has a bad feeling. What if there are watchmen on board?
  • Huck insists. Tom Sawyer wouldn't be scared of a steamboat, he says, so why should they be?
  • Okay, that's evidently a convincing argument. The two both amble on board, only to overhear three robbers, two of them preparing to kill the third man.
  • Eek.
  • Jim skitters off to the raft, but Huck inches closer to the voices to see what's going on.
  • We get some more info: Jake Packard is the man with the gun; he's trying to convince his buddy Bill to kill the third man, Jim Turner. It seems Jake is afraid Jim will "turn state's evidence," i.e., rat them out.
  • Jake has a better idea: instead of shooting Bill, they should plunder the rest of the steamboat and then wait for him to drown when the boat goes under.
  • You know, because this way, they'll have clean consciences.
  • Huck hustles out to Jim and tells him they should hurry and get the sheriff.
  • Great! Unfortunately, the raft has broken loose in the storm and gone off down the river.
  • Uh-oh.

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