Study Guide

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapter 40

By Mark Twain

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Chapter 40

  • That night, the boys are sent upstairs to bed right after dinner, since everyone's all in a sweat about the brewing trouble.
  • Tom puts on Aunt Sally's frock so he can pretend to be Jim's mother.
  • Wacky crossdressing hijinks!
  • Shortly after dinner Huck sneaks downstairs to steal some food for their escape trip. Aunt Sally bumps into him right after he steals some butter, so to hide it he puts it… under his hat.
  • Suspicious, she takes him into the sitting room where about fifteen farmers are sitting and waiting with guns.
  • Still, the butter-on-the-head plan is working just swell until it melts. Aunt Sally, ever practical and calm, exclaims that Huck has brain fever and that his insides are squirming out of his head.
  • Sadly, Dr. House makes no appearances before she snatches the hat off Huck's head and sees the melting butter.
  • Her suspicions satisfied, she sends Huck back to bed… and he promptly hurries out the window and finds Tom and Jim in the cabin, all set to go.
  • But before they can leave, the farmers and their guns surround the small hut.
  • They creep outside, and the fifteen farmers, apparently not the most observant folks in the world, flat-out miss them in the dark.
  • Unfortunately, Tom's pants catch on a rail and rip. The noise alerts the men and chaos follows.
  • They send the dogs running after the thieves, which would be a great thief-catching device if the thieves weren't boys that the dogs knew and loved.
  • They make it to the raft and they're all happy and relieved and everything is perfect except that, oh, Tom was SHOT. In the leg.
  • But he's pleased with himself, on account of all the adventure-prowess that having a bullet wound denotes.
  • Realizing that they can't escape while Tom has a bullet in his leg, they decide Huck should get a doctor, blindfold him, swear him to secrecy, and force him to help. Meanwhile, Jim can hide in the woods so the doctor won't see him.

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