The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn | Study Guide

Mark Twain

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Chapter 19

Course Hero's video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 19 of Mark Twain's novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn | Chapter 19 | Summary

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Summary

Huck and Jim spend a few peaceful, lazy days floating down the river. While Huck is in the canoe looking for berries, two men come running towards him and beg for help. After their tracks are covered the two men—one approximately 70 years old and the other approximately 30—join Huck and Jim.

Without admitting it explicitly the men reveal that they are con men, and they share what their racket is: one man travels from place to place selling patents for dental products; the older man reveals that he runs temperance meetings. Both men are on the run after their con has been discovered. The younger man then breaks down in tears and says he is the son of a duke and therefore a duke himself. Huck and Jim treat him like royalty and wait on him. Later the older man declares he is the Dauphin, the lost son of King Louis XVI, and therefore a king himself. Huck and Jim treat him like royalty as well. Huck soon realizes that they are actually con men but does not bother saying anything in order to keep the peace.

Analysis

Life on the raft and along the river is idyllic. Things are peaceful, and life is good for Huck and Jim. They are their own masters, and they have no one to answer to. Whatever needs they have are cared for. The outside world with its violence, corruption, and harshness is far away.

The duke and the king are part of the corrupt outside world and they disrupt the peaceful existence that Huck and Jim enjoyed. In their presence Huck and Jim become subordinates again. While Huck recognizes the duke and the king as con men, he claims he does not call them out because he does not want to disrupt the peace. However, it is apparent he does not have the power or confidence to assert control. Huck is a minor and a runaway who has been treated poorly his whole life. Jim is a runaway slave and has traded in one master for another. Huck and Jim are easily manipulated and used to servitude. It would make no practical sense to challenge the duke's or the king's "authority," such as it is.

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