Study Guide

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapter 17

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Chapter 17

  • While Huck is busy standing motionless to avoid being mauled to death by the dogs, a voice from the nearby house asks him who he is.
  • Huck, a.k.a. Master of Deception, responds "George Jackson."
  • The voice then wants to know if he's associated with "the Shepherdsons." Since he's not, he's welcomed inside the house by several men with guns. Guns pointed at him.
  • Once the guns are put away, we meet the family: Saul, the old gentlemen; Rachel, the old lady; Buck, the young boy about Huck's age of thirteen or fourteen.
  • Are their rhyming names a coincidence? We think not.
  • Oh, and Betsy, their black slave.
  • Buck takes Huck upstairs to get him some dry clothes, and we see that, just like Huck and, we would guess, every other adolescent boy ever, he isn't a big fan of "comb[ing] up on Sundays and all that kind of foolishness" (17.46).
  • Huck eats a meal together with the family and spins them some great lies about his family in Arkansas.
  • Everything is copasetic until he wakes up the next morning having forgotten his made-up name.
  • Yet the great Huck is not to be discouraged. He just taunts Buck and bets him he can't spell his (Huck's) name.
  • Clever. Although Buck spells "Jackson" as "Jaxon," but whatevs.
  • Huck tells us some more about this family and their house. It seems they're rather affluent for the time and place, and Huck is impressed with their collection of books (on religion, art, poetry, and politics).
  • He also comments on the pictures on the wall, which were done by one of the daughters of the family—a daughter that has since passed away. They're rather macabre, so Huck reckons that, "with her disposition, she was having a better time in the graveyard" (17.62).
  • The girl—whose name was Emmeline Grangerford—kept a scrapbook with poems that equally macabre. Huck feels bad that she wrote poems but no one wrote one for her when she died.
  • So he gives it a shot.
  • It doesn't go so well.
  • Failed poetry aside, Huck is having a grand old time living with the Grangerfords, wearing Buck's clothes, and eating their food.

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