This essay CHAPTER 1 has a total of 20334 words and 89 pages.
In the opening paragraph, Huck introduces himself to us as the
narrator of the story. He talks to us in a relaxed, matter-of-fact
tone that makes him sound friendly, honest, and maybe a little less
respectful than he should be. He does, after all, come close to
calling Mark Twain a liar.
Try to imagine Twain writing that paragraph, in which he has a
fictional character accuse him of "stretching the truth" in an earlier
book. Twain seems to be sharing a joke with you, the reader, but
Huck isn't in on the joke. Huck doesn't say it to be funny. He says it
innocently, not realizing that it could be taken as an insult.
Keep this trick of Twain's in mind as you read the book, because
you'll find him doing it dozens of times. He'll be expecting you to
understand things better than Huck, who's just a simple, almost
illiterate kid. Twain will often be winking at you over Huck's head,
the way two grownups might be quietly amused at the naive things
said by a young child.
Huck tells us that he's been living with the Widow Douglas, a
woman he seems to like even though she has set out to "sivilize"
him. His friend, Tom Sawyer, has persuaded him to go along with her,
and Huck finds himself living in a house, wearing clean clothes, and
eating meals on schedule- activities that seem very unnatural to him.
Although he's able to put up with the widow, her sister, Miss
Watson, is another story. He describes her as a "slim old maid, with
goggles on," and he complains about her trying to teach him spelling
and manners. When she tells him about heaven and hell, he figures hell
must be a better place, since Miss Watson assures him that she is
going to heaven.
After an unpleasant session with Miss Watson, Huck goes up to his
room and stares out the window. The night sounds of the woods make him
sad, until one sound begins to stand out- he recognizes it as a signal
from Tom Sawyer. Huck sneaks out of the house, feeling better now that
he and his friend are off on an adventure.
As Huck and Tom begin sneaking past the house in the dark, they make
enough noise to attract the attention of Jim, Miss Watson's black
slave. He comes out of the kitchen to see what caused the noise,
sits down in the dark to wait for it to happen again, and falls
Tom slips into the kitchen to steal some candles for their
adventure, and when he comes back, Huck is anxious to get going. But
Tom insists on playing a prank on Jim before they leave. Huck knows
this is a dumb idea, because if Jim wakes up, they'll be in deep
trouble for sneaking out of the house after dark.
But dumb or not, Tom gets to do what he wants. As the self-appointed
leader of the gang, Tom manages to get his own way just about all
the time. So he lifts Jim's hat from his head and hangs it on a nearby
limb. Huck tells us that Jim later turned this incident into an
elaborate tale of being visited by witches while he slept.
Huck and Tom get together with the rest of the gang, and they all
travel downriver to a cave Tom has picked out as a meeting place. Huck
reports what happens at the meeting, making no comment on it.
At the meeting, Tom outlines his plan for forming a gang of
bloodthirsty robbers. He talks of the blood oath they'll take
together. He says that anyone who reveals the gang's secrets will be
killed, along with his whole family. He describes what will be done
with the body of such a traitor.
Where does Tom get such ideas? He gets them from the adventure books
he reads. Unfortunately, he doesn't always understand what he's
reading, as you'll be able to tell later from his explanation of
what it means to "ransom" someone.
Read this whole scene very carefully, and you'll get a good
picture of what