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MonkeyNotes Study Guide-Huckleberry Finn-Huck Finn-Free Booknotes Synopsis
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SHORT PLOT/CHAPTER SUMMARY (Synopsis)

Huck Finn, a boy of about 12 years, is the son of the town drunk. Widow Douglas adopts him so that she can civilize him and raise him to be a gentleman. Huck dislikes the regular, staid ways of the widow. Although she is kind and attentive, he is uncomfortable and feels stifled at her house. He does not like going to school, attending church, or wearing neat clothes. Neither does he like being tutored at home by Miss Watson. When he is no longer able to put up with the Widow’s ways, he runs away; but Huck is found by Tom Sawyer, who convinces him to come back.

Huck and Tom have earlier found a hidden treasure, which they are allowed to keep for themselves. Huck’s father comes to know of his son’s prosperity and returns to St. Petersburg. He wants to take away Huck’s money, for he feels that it is rightfully his. He tries to catch Huck a number of times, but the clever boy always eludes him. One day, the father waits for him, catches him, and takes him away after a short brawl. He locks Huck in a cabin in the woods three miles down the river and regularly beats him.

A couple of months pass. When the beatings get unbearable, Huck decides to run away from the cabin. He plans escape and waits for an opportunity. He saws off a piece of the back wall, escapes through the hole, and leaves traces of pig blood to deceive his father into thinking that he is dead. He takes the canoe and goes to Jackson’s Island, where he spends three idyllic days. He meets Jim, the Widow’s slave, on one of his explorations of the island. Jim has run away from the widow when he overhears her intention of selling him down the river for eight hundred dollars.


Huck wants to know the reaction of the people to his disappearance. He dresses up like a girl and goes to the mainland. He learns from Judith Loftus, a newcomer in the village, that the people are convinced that Jim has killed Huck, since he had escaped the same day that Huck disappeared. Upset by the revelation, Huck rushes back to the island and tells Jim. The two of them board a raft and head down the river to New Orleans.

On one of their stops at a small town, Huck is caught in a feud between the Grangerfords and the Shephardsons; the feud has apparently gone on for over thirty years. He successfully escapes from them, only to find that two con men have come on their raft. The Duke and the Dauphin fool people out of money at every stop they make; they always manage to get away just in the nick of time. When Huck thinks that he has finally gotten rid of the pair, he discovers that Jim has been sold by the Duke and Dauphin to Silas Phelps for forty dollars.

Huck, in an attempt to rescue Jim, makes his way to the Phelps farm. To his joy, he discovers that Mrs. Phelps is Tom’s aunt, and she is expecting Tom to come visiting anytime. She mistakes Huck to be Tom and welcomes him. Meanwhile, Tom also comes to the Phelps farm, but Huck meets him and narrates all that has happened. He tells him that Jim is being held a prisoner by Mr. Phelps, and he intends to rescue him. Tom immediately jumps at the opportunity of having some excitement. All that they have to do is steal the keys and free Jim, but Tom sets up an elaborate plan for adventure.

In the process of freeing Jim, Tom gets injured and falls sick. Later on, Huck realizes that Jim was a free man all the while, for Widow Douglas had set him free in her will. He also comes to know that Aunt Sally is thinking of adopting him so that she can civilize him further. He runs away to the west so he can be “free”.

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