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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn | Study Guide

Mark Twain

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Chapter 39

Course Hero's video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 39 of Mark Twain's novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn | Chapter 39 | Summary



Huck and Tom collect the creatures—snakes, rats, and spiders—for Jim's cell. Some are accidentally let into the house by Aunt Sally's son. She is disturbed and beats Huck and Tom. The creatures don't all sleep at the same time, and they are driving Jim crazy and crowding him. Meanwhile Uncle Silas is ready to advertise about having a runaway slave in the New Orleans and Saint Louis newspapers.

At the end of three weeks everything is in place for the escape. Tom writes anonymous letters to the Phelpses that warn about trouble brewing. The letters scare the family. In his last letter Tom pretends to be a member of a gang that plans on taking Jim. However, he adds, he has reformed and will help them avoid losing the runaway slave.


Tom is in complete control of the action and has everything turned upside down. Everyone—Huck, Jim, and Aunt Sally—grows frustrated with him, including his antics and their impact. Tom, however, takes no notice or interest in other people's concerns or frustrations. Due to his singular focus on what he wants despite any detriment to others, Tom can be viewed as insensitive, selfish, and spoiled. He is only interested in his own entertainment and lives in the fantasy world he has concocted from adventure books.

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