The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn | Study Guide

Mark Twain

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Chapter 38

Course Hero's video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 38 of Mark Twain's novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn | Chapter 38 | Summary



Tom insists that Jim write his coat of arms on the prison cell wall. Tom also writes out mournful declarations for Jim to carve on a rock. The boys try to take a rock to Jim, but it is too heavy for them so they get Jim to come help them get the rock. When Tom says Jim should have a rattlesnake, he goes too far. Jim says he'll leave if Tom tries to bring him a rattlesnake. Tom also wants Jim to grow a flower with his tears. Jim is frustrated and sees these things as unnecessary but Tom disagrees.


The absurdity hits a high point when the boys bring Jim out of his prison in order to bring the rock back to his cell and then take him back. If one was unsure about Tom's plan, it's shown to be clearly unnecessary. Tom's plans are amusing and are all done for his entertainment. It's no wonder why Jim's frustration with Tom's plans are growing, as he rightfully sees no use in them.

Huck says of Tom, "He could out-superintend any boy I ever see. He knowed how to do everything." Tom acts like a master, and Huck and Jim are his slaves. He insists they comply with his every whim no matter if it has any legitimate purpose. With his upbringing Tom is used to bossing people around, while Huck and Jim are used to following orders.

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