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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
CHAPTER 34: Floods of Gold
Huck is uncomfortable in the Widow’s house. As he dresses in the new clothes provided for him, he thinks about escaping through the window. Before he can act, Sid appears and tells them what the excitement is all about. Mr. Jones, the Welshman, is about to surprise the townspeople by announcing Huck’s part in saving the widow’s life; Sid admits, however, that most people already know about it. Sid then notices Tom’s soiled clothes and starts questioning him as to how they have become so dirty. Tom refuses to answer and kicks him. He also accuses Sid of being a tattletale.
When the announcement is made, the widow pretends to be sufficiently surprised. She expresses her deep gratitude to Huck and then tells him that she will give him a home and have him attend school. Later she will try to set him up in a small business. Tom then tells the crowd that Huck does not need to work, for he is already wealthy. No one believes him, so Tom goes out and brings in the gold. He announces that half the money is Huck’s. When they count it, there is a little over twelve thousand dollars!
This chapter is largely about Huck. He is still reticent to be around adults, for he feels that he is not accepted. He even thinks about escaping out the window so he won’t have to face the crowd. It is also obvious that he does not like to be confined, for he does not want to wear the new clothes the Widow has bought him. When the Welshman and the Widow praise him, he is uncomfortable and embarrassed, unlike Tom who loves to be the center of attention.
The town’s view of Huck has begun to change. Because of his saving the Widow Douglas, they now look at him as respectable and brave. Since the Widow has offered to provide him with a home and to make sure he gets an education, Huck may become a normal boy of the village.
Although most of the people present are not surprised about Huck’s part in saving the Widow, they are genuinely surprised to learn about the boys’ treasure. When Tom carries in the gold and spreads it on the table, they are amazed. None of them have ever seen twelve thousand dollars in one place.
It is important to note the continuing rivalry in the chapter between Tom and Sid. It is obvious that Sid has been telling everyone about Huck’s part in saving the Widow, spoiling the surprise. Tom calls him a tattler and kicks him about. Sid is also nosy. He notices that Tom’s clothes are very dirty and asks many questions about how they got that way. Tom has learned just to ignore the nuisance of Sid’s presence.