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THE STORY - CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
A third story line-Tom's running away with Joe Harper and Huck-begins with this chapter. This story will be the focus of the novel for five chapters
Driven away by the two girls he loves-Polly and Becky-Tom sulks. He convinces himself that he has been forced to "lead a life of crime." The school bell rings as he walks away from it, and he sobs. Tom meets Joe Harper, who also plans to run away. Tom persuades him to become a pirate. Once more, Tom's fantasies, gleaned from books, overpower a comrade.
NOTE: "TWO SOULS," ETC.
Twain calls Joe and Tom "two souls with but a single thought." This is a reference to the last two lines of Ingomar the Barbarian, a play by Von Munch Bellinghausen that Twain saw in Virginia City, Nevada, in 1863. The play ends, "Two souls with but a single thought, two hearts that beat as one." Evidently, Twain believed that his readers would recognize the quote.
The boys decide to run away to Jackson's Island-Twain's fictional name for Glasscock's Island, opposite Hannibal. They get Huckleberry Finn to join them. The three boys steal provisions and meet at midnight two miles above the village.
They are clearly enacting an adventure-one right out of storybooks that Tom has read. Note the gallant names: Tom, "the Black Avenger"; Huck Finn "the Red-Handed"; and Joe "the Terror of the Seas." Ned Buntline's Black Avenger, noted earlier, is the source of Tom's nickname. Buntline's 1847 book, The Last Days of Callao, may be the source of Huck's nickname. In that book, a pirate ship hoists a white flag emblazoned with "a blood-red hand."
They steal a raft and head out into the Mississippi. Tom, naturally, is in charge-after all, it's his fantasy. His companions man the oars.
NOTE: TWAIN'S STYLE
Twain's use of words, especially in descriptive passages about nature, can be quite beautiful. Take a moment to savor his description of the boys' nighttime view of St. Petersburg, "peacefully sleeping, beyond the vague vast sweep of star- gemmed water...." You might want to note poetic passages like this and write about them later in a consideration of Twain's style.
The raft drifts downstream five miles and comes to rest on the north end of Jackson's Island, where they make camp.
Afterwards, they have a discussion that accentuates the differences between Huck and the other two boys. Tom and Joe are thrilled to think that their classmates would envy them. Huck doesn't care what others think. Nor is he happy, as Tom is, not to have to "go to school, and wash"- things Huck never does anyway. Huck is content to be eating well and to be out of range of St. Petersburg's respectable citizens, who badger ("bully- rag") him.
Huck lights a pipe and smokes it-something the other boys have never done. He's ashamed of his clothes. "I ain't dressed fitten for a pirate," he concludes. Yet he sleeps easily. The other boys, more accustomed to telling right from wrong, feel guilty and have trouble falling asleep.