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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn | Chapter 29 | Summary

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Summary

The real Harvey Wilks makes a speech—according to Huck, sounding like a real Englishman—explaining why they were delayed and mentioning his brother's broken arm and their lost luggage.

Since there is some debate over who the real heirs are, the two sets of brothers are taken to a tavern for further questioning. After Huck is questioned people say he is a bad liar and not from England. They have the men sign their names to compare it to letters that were sent to Peter. Nothing is resolved since the real Harvey's signature is indecipherable. Then the real Harvey mentions a tattoo and asks the king to say what it is. Though this looks bad for the king, he answers that the tattoo is a thin, blue arrow. While the mob is ready to kill all four men, they instead dig up the body to check the tattoo.

When they dig up the body they find the money, and the mob goes crazy. During the tumult, Huck escapes and runs to the river. He jumps past the raft and Jim has to save him. They take off alone, but a moment later, they see the duke and the king right behind them. Huck is dejected at the sight of them.

Analysis

Until this time Huck has been able to lie his way out of a number of dilemmas with his stories seeming to come so quickly and easily. However, this time the lawyer and doctor easily see through his deception. They even add that he is a poor liar and needs to practice if he wants to fool people. While Huck is surely panicking at this moment, he has gotten out of other close calls. On this occasion, however, he lies to people who are educated and that makes the difference.

The mob, on the other hand, is easily swayed. At first they defend the duke and the king. Later they appear to side with the actual brothers. Finally they are ready to string up everyone. Mob mentality is at play here with people simply following along with what the person next to them does rather than thinking for themselves. Rather than benefitting from being part of the group, the mob is dumbed down. While this mob simply seems hungry for blood, they do nothing. That is similar to the other mobs that have appeared in this book. They have been more talk than action—just like Sherburn said.

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