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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
CHAPTER 35: Respectable Huck Joins the Gang
Tom and Huck are heroes. The village paper publishes an article about them, and wherever they go, they are admired and courted. Their money is invested, and they earn a weekly income from the interest.
Now that Huck is in the widow’s care, he is accepted by society. He is made to stay clean and tidy and sleep on a proper bed. He also must go to church, like the other village children. He dreads the thought of attending school, which is soon to reopen after summer vacation. Huck is miserable, for he feels trapped. He longs for the freedom of his old ways. When he cannot stand it anymore, Huck actually runs away after about three weeks. The widow and the other townspeople search for him everywhere and when they cannot find him, they grow concerned. On the third day, Tom finds Huck up at the old hogshed. He is dirty and unkempt and is happily smoking his pipe.
Tom urges him to go back to the Widow’s; but Huck tells Tom that although she is wonderful to him, he feels stifled and smothered by regularity. He wants to be free to do what he wants to do. He asks Tom to tell the widow his feelings and to beg her forgiveness for him.
To make Huck go back, Tom comes up with an idea. Just because he is rich, it does not mean that he wants to give up being a robber, so he decides to go forward with his gang. Tom says there must be an initiation ceremony for all the members, who must take an oath and sign their names in blood. Tom tells Huck that he wants only respectable people in the gang. Since Huck wants to join, he decides to go back to the Widow’s house and try it out for one more month. He promises to try and make her proud for having taken him in.
In this chapter, Huck is living with the widow. Since he is clean and attends church, he is accepted by everybody as a normal village boy. Huck, however, is unhappy with his civilized lifestyle; he feels trapped at the widow’s house, for he is used to his freedom. When Huck runs away, Tom finds him and persuades him to go back to the Widow by telling him that he is starting a gang of robbers, and he cannot accept disreputable characters. Since Huck wants to join the group, he decides to give his life at the Widow Douglas’ house a second try. He promises to try and make the Widow proud; but the reader is left to wonder if Huck can ever settle comfortably into a society governed by strict rules and curbs on freedom.
Tom, on the other hand, is the one who convinces Huck to return to a civilized lifestyle. As seen throughout the book, Tom has really begun to mature and accept responsibility. Now he persuades Huck to make a go at doing the same.
In the conclusion, Twain points out that he must end the adventures, for Tom is about to leave behind his childhood and become a man.