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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn | Study Guide

Mark Twain

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Chapter 12

Course Hero's video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 12 of Mark Twain's novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn | Chapter 12 | Summary



Huck and Jim float down the river at night and hide the raft during the day. They build a wigwam on the raft in order to escape the sun and the rain. They buy or borrow food as they need it. While they call it borrowing, it's stealing, and Huck and Jim feel guilty about it. They pass St. Louis, and the lights of the city impress them.

During a stormy night they come across a wrecked steamboat. Huck wants to board the boat and he convinces Jim, so they tie the raft to the boat. While exploring the boat Huck comes upon two robbers holding their partner prisoner and threatening to kill him. The two robbers decide to leave the man tied up, figuring he will die when the boat sinks. Huck goes back to Jim to tell him the news and to untie the men's skiff so they will be trapped on the boat. However, Huck and Jim discover that their own raft has broken loose.


While Tom Sawyer is not part of the action, the memory of him inspires Huck to act in ways that are often foolish and—as in the case of Chapter 12—dangerous. Jim's suggestion to leave the boat alone proves wise. Entering the boat ultimately causes Huck and Jim to be trapped along with dangerous robbers. Tom's childishness contrasts greatly with Jim's practicality and seriousness. This trip, and life in general, are not a game for Jim. Like all slaves Jim has lived a hard life, with survival and avoidance of the whip two of his major concerns. Huck is caught between Tom, his childhood and childish companion, and Jim, his mature and adult companion.

Huck is also conflicted morally. Pap's suggestion that as long as you intend to one day pay someone back you are not stealing strikes Huck as disingenuous. The widow, according to Huck, would call this stealing; but he does not see it her way either. Huck and Jim see truth in both Pap's and the widow's views. After some thought and discussion Huck and Jim come up with their own moral system when it comes to taking food. Despite their misfortune Huck and Jim strive to be moral but are willing to bend the rules as they see fit.

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