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Free Barron's Booknotes-The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
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CHAPTER 7

When Pap wakes up, he doesn't remember anything about attacking Huck as the angel of death, and he wants to know why Huck is asleep in a chair with the rifle in his lap. Huck is afraid he won't believe the truth, so he says that somebody tried to break in during the night.

You remember that Huck gave away more than $6000 to avoid having to tell a lie to his father. How can he lie so easily in this situation? Later in the book, Huck himself will give you an answer to that question. In the meantime, think about whether you see any difference between the lie he refused to tell and this one.

While he's out getting some fish for breakfast, Huck sees an abandoned canoe drifting by. He wades out and gets the canoe and hides it in the woods. An escape plan is beginning to form in his head. He's glad he lied to Pap about somebody trying to break in, because that lie will help him in his plan.

After dinner, Pap goes to town to sell some logs. Huck is sure he won't be back until morning, which will give him plenty of time to put his escape plan into effect.

Read the description of Huck's escape carefully. It's a pretty elaborate plan, worked out to the smallest detail, obviously the work of a bright kid. In the middle of his description, Huck says he wishes Tom Sawyer were with him to "throw in the fancy touches." When you read it, you'll see that this plan doesn't need the kind of fancy touches Tom would add. It's complete as it is, and unlike Tom's make-believe adventures, this escape is the real thing.


The plan is intended to make everyone think Huck was murdered. This is important to him, since he isn't running away only from his father. He's running from Judge Thatcher, too, and the Widow Douglas, and all the other people he knows. He's determined to set out on his own and to leave behind his whole life up until this night.

As long as no one is looking for a living Huck, he figures he can stop anywhere he wants to take time to make further plans. He decides on nearby Jackson's Island as his temporary hideout. Then, satisfied with the ways things are working, he lies down in the canoe and falls asleep.

When he wakes up, he hears someone rowing toward his island, and he soon discovers it's Pap, coming back earlier than Huck expected. He unhitches the canoe and floats downstream as quietly as possible.

Something happens at this point in the narration that you should pay special attention to. It will happen again and again throughout the book, and you'll want to recognize it when it does.

What happens is that Huck describes what it's like on the river. It begins with "The sky looks ever so deep...." Whenever Huck talks about living on the river, his tone of voice changes. His language becomes gentler and less harsh than usual. Sometimes he becomes almost poetic.

Imagine a friend talking to you about a date, or about sports, or cars, or any subject you both have in common. Then suppose the friend suddenly shifted to talking about a much-loved baby brother. Think of the probable contrast in your friend's language and tone of voice.

Huck loves the Mississippi River the way most of us love people. If you want to know how much Mark Twain loved the river, read Life on the Mississippi some time. For now, you can get some idea of Twain's feeling by paying close attention to Huck's descriptions, beginning with the short, affectionate one we get in this chapter.

Huck gets to Jackson's Island just before daybreak. He hides his canoe in some willow branches, then lies down to take a nap before breakfast.

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