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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES
CHAPTER 32: I Have a New Name
For the first time in the novel, Huck is at a loss for words and does not know what he will say at the Phelps’ farm. When he arrives, however, the mistress of the house smiles and welcomes him with a hug. Then she introduces Huck to her children as Tom. She tells him to call her Aunt Sally. When she questions him about her family, he tries to answer her questions but is saved from real embarrassment by the arrival of her husband. Sally tells Huck to hide so that she can play a trick on her husband for having missed meeting their guest. After a few minutes, she pulls out Huck from his hiding place and introduces him as Tom Sawyer. Huck is overjoyed to hear who he is. He is also relieved because he will now be able to answer all of Sally’s questions about the Sawyer family. He then decides he must meet Tom before the rest of the family so that he can explain the situation.
For the first time in the novel, Huck does not have to create a family for himself. At the Phelps, he is presented with a ready-made one. In each of his past identities, Huck has made up large, fictional families. Now he has been placed in a family that he knows well. He relaxes and answers all of Sally’s questions truthfully, from the perspective of Tom. To prevent any confusion when the real Tom arrives, he goes out on the pretext of bringing his luggage. He waits on the road to warn Tom of the situation in which he is caught.
The whole chapter, and really the whole last section of the novel, takes on a farcical tone that is set by Aunt Sally. She has Huck hide when Uncle Silas arrives in order to play a trick on him. Because she is a practical joker, she has several jokes played on her later in the novel.
It is important to notice how the realistic Twain suddenly relies heavily on coincidence in this last section of the novel. Tom just happens to be sold to the Phelps, the Aunt and Uncle of Tom Sawyer; Huck just happens to find out where Jim is without any idea that the Phelps are related to Tom; and Huck just happens to arrive at the Phelps farm right before Tom is supposed to arrive and is able to intercept him and explain what is going on. Many critics have said that Twain’s realism that is found in most of the book is diminished by this series of coincidence.
It is also important to note that Huck’s attitude about Negroes has not really changed. When Aunt Sally asks if anyone was hurt in the boating incident, Huck answers, “No’m. Killed a nigger.” Although he values Jim as a person and human being, he still does not feel that way about the black race in general. The kind and pious Aunt Sally seems to feel exactly the same way.