The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Chapter 9 - Summary & Analysis

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SUMMARY

      The two of them start exploring the island and discover a hidden cave atop a steep hill. Since it is situated at a reasonably inaccessible place, it becomes a good site to hide the canoe and their traps. They decide to make it their hideout. In case anybody comes looking for them, the two can climb the top of the hill and get away. Moreover, Jim's assessment is that, since the birds had signalled rain, it was wise to stay back at night and be safe. So they look for a place to hide their canoe and get some more fish for dinner. The floor of the cavern is big enough for them to build a fire on.

      After dinner, there is a torrential rain, resulting in flood. The river continued to rise for ten or twelve days after that. They use the canoe to paddle around the island. On old trees, they could see snakes everywhere. But, as a result of the flood and no nourishment, they had become so tame that they would do no harm. Later, they discover a nine-plank raft (that they would use later as the novel progresses). A couple of days later, they come across a two-storeyed frame house floating in the flood. On having a closer look inside the house, they notice a dead body. Jim goes nearer to take a glimpse. of the body and advises Huck against seeing it, as its face is "too gashly". He then covers the body with old rags so that Huck cannot see it. (We are told, at the end of the novel, that the dead body is that of Pap who probably got killed while making an attempt to ransack the house). They collect all odds and ends of the that might be of some use to them. After this raid, they decide to move on to the linois shore. Huck makes Jim lie down on the surface of the canoe for fear that people might notice a black man, even from a distance.

The two of them start exploring the island and discover a hidden cave atop a steep hill. Since it is situated at a reasonably inaccessible place, it becomes a good site to hide the canoe and their traps. They decide to make it their hideout. In case anybody comes looking for them, the two can climb the top of the hill and get away. Moreover, Jim's assessment is that, since the birds had signalled rain, it was wise to stay back at night and be safe. So they look for a place to hide their canoe and get some more fish for dinner. The floor of the cavern is big enough for them to build a fire on.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Chapter 9

CRITICAL ANALYSIS

      Huck's decision, to team up with Jim, is the first step towards his acceptance of Jim as more than just a slave. He is, now, striding towards his moral and emotional growth. Having been brought up with certain codes and conventions, certain ideas have been ingrained in his impressionable mind. This is the beginning of his spirit of questioning Far from adhering to what the world terms as right or wrong, Huck starts having his own paradigm and moral standards. He makes his own rules and holds on to them. While Huck acknowledges Jim's identity as an individual in his own right, Jim seems to accept his status as a slave. Somewhere down, in Jim's heart of hearts, it has been ingrained in hi that he is inferior to all White men another instance of social conditioning.

      The surrogate father-son relationship that the two seem to build is demonstrated by the caring attitude that each has towards the other. While Jim shows his protective attitude by not letting Huck see the dead body of the man (Pap) in the wood house because it might upset him, Huck makes Jim lie down in the canoe so that nobody can identify him as a possible runaway slave another incident that fortifies our analysis that those who are uneducated are, sometimes, more sagacious.

      It has been argued that Jim did not let Huck see his father's dead body because of selfish concerns. According to some critics, Jim knows that he needs Huck's presence - physical as well as moral in order to achieve his end of freedom. If Huck were to know about Pap's death, he would be relieved enough to go back to Widow Douglas' house for, it is Pap's intimidating presence that has made him run away. But, it can be argued that it is not just the fright of Pap that makes Huck run away. It is the stifling atmosphere, offered by society, that he shuns with equa vehemence.

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