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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES
CHAPTER 33: The Pitiful Ending of Royalty
When Tom sees Huck, he stares at him as if he has seen a ghost, as like everyone else, he thinks Huck is dead. Huck explains the situation to Tom, and he agrees to help. He tells Huck to take his bag and go to the farm, and he himself will arrive half an hour later. Huck agrees to this plan. Huck also tells Tom that Jim is being held at the farm and that he intends to set him free. He requests Tom to keep this information to himself. An excited Tom offers to help Huck free Jim. Huck is amazed that Tom would stoop to such a low deed as helping a runaway.
As planned, Tom appears a little later, but does not reveal his identity. At first, he lets everyone believe that he is William Thompson from Ohio and is looking for Mr. Archibald Nichols, who happens to live three miles down the road from Sally. When Tom gives Sally a kiss, he is reprimanded by her for talking liberties. To calm her down, Tom says that he is Sid, Tom’s brother, and that Aunt Polly had deliberately not written about his accompanying Tom because they wanted it to be a surprise.
At dinnertime, Huck learns from Uncle Silas that the Duke and Dauphin’s game has been exposed since Jim had alerted the people to it. Tom and Huck go up to their room after supper but climb out of the window and go to town to warn the Duke and Dauphin. On the way, Huck tells Tom about his adventures with Jim. When they arrive in town, they see the townspeople holding torches, shouting, and chasing two men who have been tarred and feathered. Huck comments that “human beings can be awful cruel to one another.”
As soon as Tom realizes that there is adventure involved in rescuing Jim, he immediately takes the role of leader. Huck falls in with Tom’s plans and agrees to do as he says. Huck obviously still feels that Tom is wiser and stronger than he. Huck is also amazed that his “noble” friend would dare to help him in the illegal activity of helping a runaway slave, to become a “nigger stealer.” Huck can accept that he himself is wicked, but he still has trouble believing that “respectable” people like Tom can also do evil things. The irony is clear!
A contrast is intended between the homes of the Grangerfords and the Phelps. While the Grangerfords were wealthy and lived in a large house, the Phelps have a modest southern farm. The husband is the preacher of the town church, which he built, and the wife takes care of running the house and the spinning mill. The servants are treated kindly by the masters and are well cared for.
There is also a definite contrast between Huck and Tom drawn in this chapter. Huck seldom plans things; he sort of leaves it all up to “Providence” and often acts hastily without much thought. By contrast, Tom Sawyer is the ultimate organizer, who comes up with intricate plans filled with details.
Huck’s goodness and naiveté are highlighted when he and Tom sneak out of the house to warn the Duke and Dauphin. In spite of his negative feelings toward them, Huck does not want to see them hurt; he is truly a kind and sympathetic boy. When Huck and Tom arrive in town, Huck regrets seeing the two frauds being chased by an angry mob despite the most abominable manner in which they have treated Jim. Huck still does not realize just how cruel of an act the selling of Jim is; he is quite ready to help them escape despite his sincere friendship for Jim. Also, he is willing to go along in a very humiliating “game” to help free Jim. Instead of simply taking the keys and helping him escape, Tom must turn it into an adventure that provides pleasure and excitement. The sad thing about the whole incident is that Jim is really already free, and Tom Sawyer knows it. He refuses to tell Huck, however, because he wants to have a grand adventure freeing Jim. Neither boy has any real understanding of the consequences of slavery.