Study Guide

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapter 14

By Mark Twain

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Chapter 14

  • Thanks to all the robbers' loot, Huck and Jim are sitting on some major bank. Huck is all fired up and ready for more adventures, but Jim would rather not have any more near-death experiences.
  • Part of the loot they got from the steamship was a load of books. Huck reads some of them to Jim and, in doing so, gets into a conversation about dukes and kings and the like.
  • He tells Jim about all the pomp and circumstances surrounding these kinds of men. Jim is amazed. He says he's never heard of kings before—except for "Sollermun" (i.e., the biblical Solomon).
  • Jim is skeptical that kings can get all the riches they want just by sitting around all day.
  • Huck confirms that this is the case. They also hang around their harem, he says, which is like a garage for their thousands of wives.
  • Nuh-uh, says Jim. If Solomon really did have a thousand wives, he wasn't actually that smart after all, because he'd have to listen to the women gabbing all the time.
  • Besides, what about that really dumb decision about splitting the kid in two?
  • (Biblical aside: Solomon was a very wise man who could judge and solve all disputes. One day, two women came to him with a child, both claiming to be the mother. Solomon suggested that they cut the child in half, knowing that the real mother would rather give up her baby than see him split in two. His master plan worked, of course.)
  • Surprisingly, Huck actually remembers what the Widow taught him from the Bible and tries to explain that Solomon didn't really want to cut the kid in half.
  • Jim can't (or won't) understand. He keeps insisting that Solomon is stupid for wanting to cut a child in half, because half a child isn't good to anybody.
  • Probably, he says, Solomon was so wasteful of children because he had about eight million kids himself. If he only had two kids, he wouldn't be so eager to go chopping them in half.
  • Next, they talk about language. Huck explains that a Frenchman doesn't speak the same way they do.
  • Jim thinks this is ridiculous: all cats talk the same. All dogs talk the same. Why shouldn't all men talk the same?
  • … And this is actually a really good point. But Huck misses the fact that Jim is actually incredibly logical and declares that, "you just can't learn a n***** to argue."

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