The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn | Study Guide

Mark Twain

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Chapter 17

Course Hero's video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 17 of Mark Twain's novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn | Chapter 17 | Summary



Huck calls out and asks to have the dogs called off. He introduces himself as George Jackson. The man confirms Huck is not a "Shepherdson" and then acts kindly. They get him dry clothes and food and offer to let him stay as long as he would like. Huck gives them a story about his background. The family name is Grangerford. They have a big house, and Huck admires it and the furnishings.

There is a son in the family, Buck, who is around Huck's age. Buck and Huck hang out together and become friendly. A daughter in the family, Emmeline, had passed away at a young age. Her artwork is around the house, and Huck hears her poetry, which are eulogies for the dead. He finds out that when someone died, Emmeline would arrive on the scene even before the undertaker.


The Grangerford family treats Huck well. They take pity on him and offer him anything he needs. Their actions represent the best of Southern hospitality. However, their kindness is tinged with an edge. Had Huck been a member of the Shepherdson family, Buck says he would have killed him right there. He gives no reason for why he would kill him other than his being there. So much for Southern hospitality.

Emmeline's obsession with death is odd. Why should a young girl be so intrigued by death? The fact that her poetic "tributes" take precedence over an undertaker's care for the dead is so morbid that it is comical. Emmeline represents the South's obsession with honor. In her view honor comes with death. This is evident in the shrine that is created in her honor after she dies.

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