Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | Barron's Booknotes
CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
CHAPTER 16: First Pipe - Iíve Lost My Knife
The three runaway boys continue to have a good time, hunting turtle eggs, shooting marbles, and swimming. However, by mid- afternoon, Joeís spirits take a nosedive. He is terribly homesick and almost in tears. Huck and Tom also feel the same, but do not show it. To cheer themselves up, they try playing pirates, a game that fails to lift their spirits. Swimming does not hold any attraction for them either. Joe, by this time, is almost ready to give up and go back home to see his mother. Huck decides to go with Joe and asks Tom to consider joining them. At this point, Tom decides to share his secret with them. This temporarily puts a stop to their plans of returning home.
Once they agree to Tomís plan, which is still unstated by Twain, they start enjoying their stay again. Huck takes out his pipe and starts smoking. When Tom and Joe pretend that they too are used to smoking, Huck offers to roll out cigarettes for them. Unused to the tobacco, they choke and become sick from the smoke. They, however, do not want to accept defeat or admit to Huck that they are novices; therefore, they pretend that they have lost a knife and go in search for it in order to regain their composure. They later admit defeat when Huck offers to prepare a pipe for each of them after supper. Huck and Joe refuse the offer.
At around midnight, there is a thunderstorm that scares the boys. They get drenched and take shelter in the tent. Later they learn that lighting has destroyed the tree under which they had been sleeping. They are thankful they are unharmed.
In the morning, Joe and Huck are again miserable, but Tom reminds them of the secret, the thought of which cheers them up considerably. They play Indians and pretend to have a bloody battle, which delights all three boys. After the battle, they share a "peace pipe;" Tom and Joe are delighted not to get sick this time.
In this chapter, Twain captures the wonderful, carefree world of boyhood. Tom, Huck, and Joe thoroughly enjoy playing circus, conducting an Indian battle, swimming in the river, and shooting marbles. When the boys grow homesick again, Tom convinces them to stay on the island awhile longer. He has a prank up his sleeve that is impossible for them to resist.
Tom and Joe are fascinated by Huckís expertise in smoking. They do not want to be left out of this adult behavior and pretend that they also know how to smoke. Huck rolls cigarettes for them; but when Huck and Joe smoke them they cough and grow sick. They finally admit defeat when Huck suggests they smoke a pipe after dinner. The next day, however, the inexperienced smokers share a peace pipe with Huck. Tom and Joe feel amazed and grown up when they do not get sick.
It is important to note how vividly Twain describes the storm and its effects. The boys are frightened by the intensity of the storm and wisely seek refuge in the tent. When they realize that the tree under which they had been sleeping has been destroyed by the storm, they are all thankful to be alive and unharmed.
It is also important to note that of the three boys, Joe is the most homesick, but then he is the only one with a mother, and he misses her intently. Even Huck almost returns to St. Petersburg, but Tom steps in to suggest an alternative. He buoys the boysí flagging spirits and involves them in games so they will forget their homesickness. Once again Tom shows his leadership abilities.