Chapters 14, 15 and 16
The two adventurers, one more adventurous than the other, find a number of
valuables among the robbers’ booty, some trinkets, cigars and other valuables.
Huck recognizes that Jim is intelligent for a black person and Huck can never fail to astonish Jim by his tales of heroes and kings. He tells him about King Louis XVI of France who had a Dolphin for a son, and he is rumored to be wandering America. He goes on to amaze Jim by saying that he does not speak English, but French, but Jim says that that is impossible. Huck tries to reason with Jim but to no avail.
The two are aiming for the town of Cairo, which is at the mouth the Ohio
River, which runs into the Free States. Huck is worried about helping Jim escape from his rightful owner, Miss Watson, but Jim is so enthusiastic about reaching the Free States and his plan about earning money
in order to buy his family’s freedom that any thoughts he has of surrendering Jim are extinguished.
Jim says that Huck is the only friend he has, the only one to keep a promise
They come across a boat filled with men who are searching for escaped
slaves. Huck tells them not to get too close, as his family has smallpox. The men back away and leave $40 in gold out of pity.
Huck resolves to change his morality after his debate over Jim’s future
whether he should be free or owned by Miss Watson. He decides to do whatever is “handiest” whenever he is required to make a major decision.
Fog descends on the river and the raft and the canoe become separated in the
confusion. They are both relieved to find each other soon afterwards.
They still have not found Cairo and worry that they may have passed it in
They decide to stop for the night and canoe upriver in the morning. However, when they wake up they find the canoe has gone, more bad luck from the rattlesnake and later that day a steamboat drives right into the raft breaking it apart. Jim and Huck dive off just in time, but are separated. Huck makes it ashore, but is caught by a pack of dogs.
We see a change in Huck’s attitude towards black people during the course of
these chapters. He shows an increased sense of morality and respects Jim for his intelligence, which has been firmly established through humor.
It is not surprising that Huck shows prejudice towards black people, bearing
in mind the society he is being brought up in which allows whites to rule over blacks.
Huck does apologize to Jim for his thoughtless pranks and this signals a major change in his attitudes towards black people. Just as Huck has broken away from the civilized world, he is also breaking away from what he has been taught, in particular his attitude to Jim. He is developing his own sense of right and wrong, and the fact he did not surrender Jim was due to the fact that he realizes Miss Watson is a hypocrite believing jointly in her form of Christianity and owning slaves.
Twain illustrates clearly here that the society, which Huck has escaped
from, is horribly wrong.
We also get further insight into Jim’s complex character. Even
Huckleberry himself concedes that Jim is intelligent. Jim actually successfully argues against Huck’s assertion that other languages exist.
Jim says that although cows and hens speak differently, they are different species whereas Americans and Frenchmen are the same species and therefore speak the same language. Huck gives up, conceding to Jim’s stubbornness, but really Jim has outwitted him, although in the end Huck is correct Jim has shown his reasoning to be stronger. Of course, this shows that Jim is ignorant in that he has never heard of other languages. This is because nineteenth century slaves were forbidden to even read and write. Unfortunately, this flaw in Jim’s outlook will have painful consequences later on in the novel.
Twain is here trying to make a distinction between intelligence and