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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES
CHAPTER 14: Was Solomon Wise?
When they awake, Jim and Huck open the trunk they have rescued from the wreck. They find clothes, blankets, boots, cigars, and a lot of books about the adventures of kings and dukes. Huck reads the books to Jim, who listens with interest and awe. He tells Huck that he always thought that there was only one king, King Solomon. Huck tells Jim that King Solomon had a harem of many wives. This confuses Jim, for he wonders why a wise man like Solomon would have many wives when all they would do was quarrel with each other and make him miserable. He also has trouble understanding what King Solomon would do with “half a child”. Huck, unable to make Jim understand about Solomon, lets the matter rest and turns the talk to the French King Louis XVI. Jim cannot understand how this King can be a man and speak a different language.
In this chapter, which serves as a quiet interlude, a contrast is made between Huck and Jim. Although Huck himself is basically uneducated, he can read and does understand some things about history and geography. Jim, on the other hand, cannot read and is totally unfamiliar with history; he thinks the only language in the world is English and the only king is Solomon. When he is overwhelmed with new knowledge, he simply dismisses as impossible anything that does not make sense to him.
It is important to understand that Jim’s comments about language reveal an insight into his deeper humanity. Any division, whether linguistic or racial, is artificial to him. There is no reason that all people should not understand each other.