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Free Barron's Booknotes-The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
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CHAPTER 33

Huck starts off for town and meets Tom Sawyer's wagon on the way. Tom, of course, is frightened by what he thinks is Huck's ghost, but Huck soon convinces him that he's alive and well.

When Huck explains his situation, Tom is happy to play along. Then Huck tells him that he's there to help Miss Watson's Jim escape. Tom starts to say something, then stops. After thinking for a moment, he says he'll help Huck steal Jim from his Uncle Silas.

Huck is absolutely shocked. At that moment, he says, Tom Sawyer "fell considerable in my estimation." How could Tom Sawyer, a good boy from a respectable family, agree to help Huck in his "dirty, low-down business"?

Huck isn't going to learn the answer until the end of the book, but Tom knows that Jim is already a free man. His agreeing to help Huck is a charade. He'll go through the motions of breaking the law, but he secretly knows there's nothing criminal about what they're doing. Keep this in mind as you read about the escapades Tom invents for Jim and Huck in the next several chapters.


Now that Tom has agreed to help, he and Huck work out the first part of the plan-Tom's arrival at his uncle's house. As Huck expects, Tom arrives with style, attracting the whole family outside to see who the stranger is.

After masquerading as a traveler from Ohio, he plays a trick on Aunt Sally and then announces that he is, in fact, Tom's brother Sid. This makes him even more welcome than he was before, and it also ensures that both boys will be able to stay for as long as they need to.

Huck hears that the townspeople are wise to the king and the duke, and he and Tom sneak into town at night to warn them. They get there just in time to see the men, tarred and feathered and tied to a rail, about to be run out of town.

After all the heartache the two thieves have caused Huck, the only thing he can feel for them now is sympathy. "Human beings," he tells us, "can be awful cruel to one another."

His sensitive conscience then begins to bother him, as though he were somehow responsible for what's happened to the two men. In the last paragraph of the chapter, he makes some comments about conscience that you might find interesting.

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