The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Chapter 15 - Summary & Analysis

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SUMMARY

      Jim looks forward to his freedom by reaching Cairo from where they can take a steamboat upstream and reach the free states. On the second day of their voyage, they have to encounter thick fog. Huck goes ashore to anchor the raft. Suddenly, it turns loose and gets carried away downstream with Jim in it. Huck jumps into the canoe and starts rowing. In a state of confusion, he forgets that it is fastened. By the time he unties the canoe and starts looking for the raft, he has lost track of it. In the thick fog, it is not possible for him to make out the direction in which it has gone. Realizing that an island has separated him from Jim, Huck feels terribly lonely. Completely exhausted, he falls asleep and, on waking up, he notices that the fog has cleared. Suddenly he perceives a black speck on the water. He follows it and is able to locate the raft.

      He finds Jim sleeping and plans to play a prank on him. When Jim expresses his happiness on seeing Huck, the latter pretends to have been with him all this while. He makes Jim believe that all this was but a nightmare. Recounting his "dream" to Huck, Jim 'adds his own connotations to the various images that he has seen in his "dream. He "terprets" the first towhead to the man who wanted to help them. The current is equated to an evil force that might steer them towards trouble. The "whoops" are likened to signals of some impending misfortune. When Huck shows Jim the broken twigs on the floor of the raft, Jim realizes that his friend has been fooling him all this while. He feels terribly hurt. Huck also feels remorseful for having played with Jim's sentiments and apologizes to the latter.

The slaveholding social order of the Mississippi valley explains Huck's mental conditioning and betrays his racist outlook. Even after realizing his mistake, he needs a good "fifteen minutes" to gear himself up "to go and humble" himself to Jim because he is a "nigger". It is below his dignity to concede to Jim merely on grounds of skin color.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Chapter 15

CRITICAL ANALYSIS

      The slaveholding social order of the Mississippi valley explains Huck's mental conditioning and betrays his racist outlook. Even after realizing his mistake, he needs a good "fifteen minutes" to gear himself up "to go and humble" himself to Jim because he is a "nigger". It is below his dignity to concede to Jim merely on grounds of skin color.

      It is interesting to observe the depth of feeling that each have for the other. On being reunited, whilst Jim seems to be more voluble in expressing his happiness, Huck has the serenity of mind to think of playing a practical joke. Though he treats Jim with more humanity than the others do, he, sometimes, forgets to recognize the fact that Jim also has feelings just like other human beings. His loyalty for Jim does not seem to be as profound as that of the latter towards him. Huck's prank on Jim echoes the pranks that Tom plays on Jim, in the earlier chapters. Nevertheless, Huck is more sensitive to Jim's feelings than Tom is. He is more receptive of the fact that, despite being black, Jim too in human being. It is also noteworthy here that this is the first time Jim voices his displeasure for having been duped. In this incident, Jim is nore vociferous, about his hurt feelings, than he has ever been before. This is, probably, because his familiarity with Huck has lent him a sense of self-confidence.

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