Study Guide

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapter 2

By Mark Twain

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Chapter 2

  • Huck and Tom traipse through the dark. They pass the kitchen and see Jim, Miss Watson's slave sitting by the window.
  • Welcome to the pre-Civil War South.
  • Side note: Twain frequently uses the word "n*****" to refer to the black slaves. This is a testament to the times and a true record of vernacular in the setting. Shmoop is from a kinder, gentler time (we hope), so we'll be sticking with "the n-word."
  • Jim hears some noises and comes outside to investigate.
  • The boys freeze in place, and Huck makes the most astute comment ever: when you can't move, you always itch all over the place.
  • Jim is determined to wait the situation out, so he sits down.
  • And promptly falls asleep.
  • Obviously, Huck and Tom can't resist this situation. They decide to punk him, and much hilarity ensues.
  • Tom sneaks into the kitchen to take a candle, and leaves five cents on the table for payment.
  • Honest kid.
  • Then he takes Jim's hat off his (sleeping) head and hangs it on the branch above him.
  • When Jim finally wakes up, he tells everyone that witches came and rode him all around the world.
  • He becomes the famous authority for all things witch-related, which is knee-slappin' hilarious for Huck.
  • Back to the night at hand: after setting the prank in motion, Tom and Huck pick up a few more of their friends and bring the boys to a cave in the woods.
  • Fortunately, all Tom Sawyer does is start a gang. In a burst of creativity and selflessness, he calls it "Tom Sawyer's Gang."
  • This is all fun and games until the boys have to sign a blood oath, which no one seems to have any qualms about.
  • Obviously Tom got the idea from books about pirates and robbers and so forth.
  • Someone thinks it would be a good idea to kill the family of any boy that breaks the oath.
  • All agree.
  • This creates some difficulties for Huck; we find that his father used to lie around drunk with the hogs and is nowhere to be found these days.
  • Why is this a problem? It would render killing him a problem, in the event that he broke the oath.
  • Huck, always a problem-solver, offers up Miss Watson instead, to everyone's great satisfaction.
  • Tom says they're all supposed to be robbers, but they can't steal—that would be burglary, and very, very wrong. Again, he speaks with authority, having gotten all his information from children's fiction.
  • Tom debates with one of the boys, Ben Rogers, about the proper way to ransom a person.
  • Women are easy. You just bring them to your cave and are "polite as pie" to them. Obviously, they then fall in love with you while you're all waiting for them to get ransomed. (Twain probably had some inspiration for this.)
  • What day to start the robbing and killing? Sunday is obviously out of the question, since that would be totally wicked. In the evil sense.

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