Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Huckleberry Finn: Chapters 9-12

In chapter nine they hike to a spot that is high up and because Jim had seen that the birds said it was going to rain they decided to hide the canoe and bring all of their belongings up to the spot they found.  The storm was terrible and the water level rose on the Illinois side of the rive.  After the storm they would paddle around in the canoe, the animals had become so hungry you could go right up to them and touch/feed them if you wanted to.  One night a house floated by, and they both got in it from the upstairs window.  In the house there was a dead man laying in the corner, Huck didn't have any intention of looking at it.  They went through the house and got a lot of goods that could come in handy at some point.  When they had gotten everything they wanted it was daylight and Huck made Jim lay down in the canoe so no one could see him.  Huck paddled back to their spot and they got everything home safely.

Chapter ten is once again full of superstisions.  Huck wanted to talk about the dead man they had seen but Jim said it was bad luck.  Jim also told Huck that handling a snake skin was horrible luck, which Huck had done earlier in the week.  Huck looked at the days finds and said he hoped this bad luck happened more often.  Jim warned Huck that the bad luck was coming, and it did.  Huck killed a snake and thought it would be funny to put it at the end of Jim's bed for fun, however Huck forgot about the snake and when Jim got in bed the snake's mate was there.  The mate bit Jim in the heel and Jim became very sick.  Huck had to cut off the snake's head, skin it and Jim ate the meat.  This was done to help cure Jim, everytime Jim was conscious he also drank.  It took four days and nights until Jim was able to get up again.  One of the first things they did was go fishing when the water levels went down and they caught a fish that was about 6 feet long, probably one of the biggest Mississippi had ever seen.  That next morning Huck announced that he was feeling a bit anxious and wanted to stir up some trouble and decided he wanted to go into town.  Jim suggested he go after dark and that he dress up in some girl clothes so no one would recognize him.  Huck liked the idea and he got into a calico dress and a bonnet and set out on his journey to town just after dark.  He saw a house that he thought hadn't had a residance in there for long, so the people wouldn't recognize him, and that's where he decided he wanted to visit.

In chapter eleven  Huck is invited into the woman's house and he says his name is Sarah Williams and that he lives in a neighboring town.  The woman that lives there goes into the story of Huck's death and the town first believed that it was Huck's father who killed him because he disappeared the day after the search.  Then they came to the conclusion that it was Jim because he had gone missing the night of the alleged murder.  Huck is looking pretty uneasy at this point and the woman again asks his name, this time Huck said Mary Williams and the woman questioned it.  Huck quickly covers it up and says that it's Sarah Mary Williams and different people call him different first names.  The woman seems to accept this and goes on with her stories.  The woman then tries to kill the rats that are in her house and asks Huck to help, he doesn't do to bad.  Huck also got ahold of some thread and a needle and he was holding the thread still while trying to move the needle.  These things gave Huck away and the woman asked his real name.  He said that he was a runaway and that both of his parents were dead and he needed to go, he said he stole the clothes from the man's daughter and left.  The woman proceeded to tell him everything that gave him away so that he might fix it in the future, she made him a snack and set him on his way. Huck quickly went back to the island where Jim was and told him to hurry because they were after them.  Jim never questioned it but packed quickly and they had everything done in half an hour.

In chapter twelve they got away to a part of the river that they were certain they wouldn't get caught, about 17 miles away from the town.  That night Jim built a wigwam for them to say in, for the next few nights they traveled down the river.  Huck would go to town around 10pm to buy some food to live off of and in the morning he would go borrow some fruit/vegetables from the fields.  Huck's father had said that borrowing was okay if you had the intention of paying them back someday, but the widow said it was just a soft word for stealing.  One night they came across a ferry that had crashed in the terrible storm they were experiencing. Huck wanted to go aborad but Jim didn't yet Huck got the better of Jim and off they went.  In the ship they heard voices, and at that Jim left.  Huck went to see what was happening and he saw two men over a man that was tied up, of the two men one had a lantern and one had a pistol.  They were going to kill the man, but they decided to loot the rest of the captain's quarters and then watch the ship for two hours to make sure it would sink and the man would die.  At this Huck went and found Jim and told him that they needed to go immediately, he suggested that Jim go to the raft and get it ready.  Jim interrupts Huck and says there is no more raft, it broke free and was gone.

I find it not in the least bit surprising that they blame Jim for the murder.  As I was reading the earlier chapters I thought to myself "they're going to blame Jim."  And sure enough, they did.  It's always easy to blame the black slave that goes missing.  They didn't just think that maybe he was sick of being someone else's property.  He knows the severity of his running away because when Huck said they were coming after them he didn't say a thing and picked as quickly as he could.  It's clear the fear that rests with both of them if they are caught and if they have to be brought back.  The penalty for running away is severe and not something a slave wishes to endure.  It's interesting to me that if Jim had been sold he would be worth $900 but to be brought back to where his owner was it was only a $300 reward.

It's very obvious how slaves were thought of as nothing at this time.  When Huck said that he was George and not Sarah and that he ran away from the man he lived with(since both of his parents died, according to the story he told) because the man treated him so poorly the woman felt so bad and called him a poor baby and how she won't tell anyone that he's gone and that she'll help him anyway she can.  Yet when she's talking about how Jim is gone and how she thinks he killed the boy she made it clear she didn't feel bad for him.  Her husband was going to go hunt that slave down and take him back to where he belonged and she could have the reward money! She didn't feel bad for Jim, even though he was probably treated just as bad as "George" would have been.

I don't know if it's just me but I just didn't get as much out of these chapters.  I've seen some of the same areas reiterated but I'm not really sure what to think of everything new.  I'm confused as to what is going on in the ship and what's going on with the men who want to kill the other man.  Why is this important?

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