Study Guide

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapter 4

By Mark Twain

Chapter 4

  • Against all expectations, Huck's been gettin' sivilized.
  • In other words, he's been going to school and taking regular baths and so on, which for a boy from the woods is a big deal.
  • When he gets too fed up with it all, he runs off to sleep in the woods.
  • One morning, Huck spills some salt at breakfast. But before he can throw it over his shoulder (it's a superstition thing), Miss Watson stops him and tells him not to be foolish.
  • Huck knows this means that bad luck is coming.
  • Outside, he sees tracks in the snow. Apparently, someone came up to the garden and then stopped before going inside.
  • Examining one of the tracks, Huck sees a cross in the heel made out of nails—a sign to keep off the devil.
  • After seeing this, Huck hauls it to Judge Thatcher's as fast as he can, with one eye over his shoulder the whole way. Clearly, he knows something we don't.
  • When he gets to the Judge's, he says he wants to give him all the money (his six-thousand-dollar share of the money found in the cave).
  • The Judge wants to know why, but Huck skirts the issue on the grounds that he doesn't want "to tell no lies."
  • The Judge ponders for a moment and decides that what Huck really wants to do is sell his property over to the Judge; this way the transaction is legal and Huck is safe.
  • This will all make sense soon, don't worry.
  • Huck agrees, signs a document, gets a dollar as pay for all his property, and leaves.
  • On his way back home, he tells us about Jim and his magic hairball. It's a fortune-telling magic hairball.
  • So Huck goes to Jim to have his fortune read by the magic hairball. He says he saw his Pap's tracks in the snow and now he's scared.
  • Jim drops the hairball on the floor, but sadly, that's not enough to make the thing talk. Clearly, the hairball needs some money.
  • One counterfeit quarter later, the hairball tells Huck (via Jim's interpretation, of course), that his Pap doesn't know what to do. He's got a good angel on one shoulder and a bad one on the other, and it's hard to say who he'll listen to at any given time.
  • Jim rather profoundly observes that sometimes Huck's life will be good and sometimes bad. For example, sometimes he'll be sick, but he'll always get better.
  • We guess this is the "bad" part, because waiting for Huck in his bedroom is his abusive, drunk Pap.

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