Study Guide

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapter 22

By Mark Twain

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Chapter 22

  • So, the angry mob makes its way over to Sherburn's house.
  • Sherburn promptly steps out on his porch with a double-barreled gun, calm and composed.
  • He proceeds to stare the mob down, which is pretty impressive if you think about it.
  • Then he laughs at them and proceeds, in what again is an oddly Shakespearean moment, to deliver a soliloquy of sorts.
  • Essentially, he says that the mob doesn't have the mojo to lynch anyone, much less a man like himself. They're all cowards, he says, except for that one guy Buck Harkness, but even he is only half of a man.
  • So, taunting an angry mob may seem like a questionable decision, but it seems to work in this case. The mob leaves with its tails between its collective legs.
  • And now, off to the circus!
  • And what a fine circus it is—horsemen and dancers and beautiful women and all. About halfway through, a drunken man tries to make his way into the center of the stage.
  • The ringmaster tries and fails to stop the drunk as he climbs on one of the circus horses, which tears about the stage.
  • While everyone else is laughing at the man's near-death experience, Huck is concerned for his safety, at least until he jumps off the horse, sober as can be, sheds seventeen suits from underneath his overcoat and reveals himself to be, actually, part of the act.
  • That night, the duke and the king perform their "Shakespeare" to a group of poor, uneducated Arkansas townsfolk.
  • In a twist that isn't surprising to anyone, anywhere, they don't get it.
  • In fact, they don't like it at all.
  • So the con artists rethink their plan. They put up a sign for the next night that essentially says "Low-Brow Comedy Show! XXX!"

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