Study Guide

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapter 42

By Mark Twain

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Chapter 42

  • The next morning, Tom/Sid has yet to return. Silas suddenly remembers to give Sally a letter from her sister (Polly, who usually takes care of Tom), but before she can open it, they all spot several figures approaching the farm.
  • And the figures are: Jim, wearing the stolen dress (!?) and tied up; Tom Sawyer, lying on a mattress; the doctor; and a mob of curious folks.
  • Everyone wants to hang Jim as an example, but the doctor stops them and tells his story: when he found "Sid" to fix his leg, he couldn't do anything without a second pair of hands.
  • Sid was clearly getting worse and worse, and finally Jim stepped out of hiding—even though he knew it would mean his own recapture—to save the boy's life.
  • Everyone's super-grateful, so they decide not to kill Jim.
  • But they do lock him back up in the shed.
  • They put Tom to bed and wait for him to wake up and feel chirpy, which he does the next morning.
  • He then explains everything to his aunt, about how they set Jim free and sent the anonymous notes, etc. He's quite proud of himself, but his aunt is none too pleased.
  • When Tom hears that Jim has been thrown back in captivity, he flips out. Jim is free, he says, so they ought to let him go.
  • Everyone essentially says, "What!?'
  • He explains that Miss Watson died two months ago and, feeling guilty and likely fearing hell, set Jim free in her will.
  • Everyone is happy, although Silas is probably wondering if he'll get his $40 back, and no one seems too choked up about the fact that Miss Watson is dead.
  • Adding to the fun times, Aunt Polly shows up, which blows everyone's fake identities.
  • Huck declares that now he can respect Tom's morality again since he knows he wasn't trying to free someone else's property.
  • Also, we find out that Tom's been hiding all the letters that Aunt Polly had sent to her sister.

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