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MonkeyNotes Study Guide-Huckleberry Finn-Huck Finn-Free Booknotes Synopsis
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CHAPTER 10: What Comes of Handliní Snake-skin


The next day after breakfast, Huck wants to talk about the dead man on the boat. Jim discourages him by saying that it will bring them bad luck, and since the body has not been given a proper funeral, it can haunt them. They go through the clothes that they have brought back and find eight silver dollars sewn in the lining of an overcoat. Huck again raises the topic of the dead man, and Jim refuses to talk about it, repeating that it will bring them bad luck. Huck retaliates by saying that Jim had told him the same thing when he had picked up a snake-skin a few days before; instead of bad luck, they have found eight dollars. If this is bad luck, Huck wishes to have it everyday, because soon they would become rich. Jim takes no offense at Huckís teasing, but cautions Huck that they are indeed due for some bad luck.

A couple of days later, Huck goes into the cave to get some tobacco and finds a rattlesnake. He kills it with a stick and curls it at the foot of Jimís bed, so that he can have some fun at Jimís expense. Huck forgets all about the snake, and when they are ready to turn in for the night, Jim is bitten in the heel by the snakeís mate. Huck throws away the first snake because he does not want Jim to know that he is in pain because of him. Jim is very sick for a few days. In an attempt to cure him, Huck cuts the snakeís head, skins the body, and roasts it. Jim believes that if he eats the meat, it will cure him of the bite. After this incident, Huck vows never to touch a snake again.

The next few days pass peacefully, and Huck grows curious to find out what the peopleís reaction to his disappearance are. He decides to go to the mainland to find out what is being said. Jim tells him that he must go under the cover of darkness and disguised as a girl. They take out one of the dresses they had taken from the floating house and shorten it. Turning up his trouser legs, Huck wears the dress and ties a bonnet round his head. Jim assures him that even if some one sees him, they will not be able to recognize him.

Huck starts his journey after dark and reaches the town a couple of hours later. When he sees lights burning in one of the houses, he peeps through the window. He sees a stranger sitting by the fire and knitting. Thinking that he would be relatively safe with this newcomer, he knocks on her door, hoping to gain the information that he wants from her.


In this chapter, the relationship between Huck and Jim continues to develop. Huck tries to tease Jim with a dead snake, and the innocent Jim gets bitten. Huck feels remorse, after the fact. He does not mind trying to scare Jim with the dead snake, but he does not want Jim to know that he is the cause of the snakebite. He truly regrets his actions and chastises himself for being so foolish. Huck will try to pull only one more trick on Jim in the novel. Once he has matured, Huck puts his childish trickery behind him. On the other hand, Jim continues to be very protective of Huck. When he wants to go to the mainland, Jim warns him to travel after dark and suggests that he dress up like a girl to avoid detection.

Ironically, as the novel progresses and something bad happens, Jim, as always, relies on superstition and blames it on the rattlesnake. In truth, he is then unknowingly blaming the bad luck on Huck. In this chapter, Jim uses superstition as an excuse for not talking about the dead man. He tells Huck that if they talk about him, the dead man will haunt them and bring bad luck. He is really trying to protect Huck from the news that his Pap is dead, thinking that the boy would be grieved by the death.

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