Chapters 40, 41, 42 and 43
Fifteen armed men come to the Phelps’ house so Huck goes to the shed to warn
Tom and Jim.
Tom is excited to hear about the fifteen-armed men. They rush into the shed as Tom, Huck and Jim escape through the hole. As they jump the fence, Tom makes a noise and the men shoot at the escaping three. They make it to their hidden raft and set off downstream, delighted at their success until Tom reveals that he has been shot in the leg, but treats this as a souvenir of his campaign.
Jim says that they should get a doctor, as this is what Tom would do if the
situation were reversed.
This is confirmation to Huck that Jim is white inside. Huck goes and finds a doctor and sends him to Tom. He then runs into Silas who takes him back home. The house is filled with farmers and their wives discussing the weird contents of the shed. Silas has been unable to find Tom, and Sally is worried about his welfare and refuses to allow Huck to go and search.
Then Tom is brought in on a mattress in a semi-conscious state with the
doctor. Also with them is Jim who is in chains.
He is badly treated and locked once more inside the shed. The doctor advises that Jim is not all bad, as he could have escaped to freedom, but stayed with Tom to look after him. When Tom awakes he tells them to set Jim free because in Miss Watson’s Will she stated that Jim should be given his freedom. She had regretted ever having considered selling him down the river.
The true identities of Huck and Tom are revealed to Sally and Silas who yell
at the boys for their mischievous behavior.
Tom is sorry for his treatment of Jim and says he will send him back home as
a hero, and gives him $40 for his troubles.
Tom makes a full recovery and inserts the bullet into a watch, which he
wears around his neck.
Tom also reveals that the body they found on the houseboat was Pap, so Huck
will be able to return home with his money waiting for him.
Huck hopes to go out to the Indian Territory for some more adventures.
He is fed up with writing about what has happened and he certainly does not want to go back to be civilized, as he has had enough of that.
This tale has rather fizzled out, but it does have a happy ending in that
Jim is free, Huck has his fortune and Tom is well.
It is revealed that Jim has had his freedom all along which in a way is a
cop-out for Twain, although masters did free their slaves, this was rare, but perhaps Twain had had enough of this novel and wished to end it without too much effort.
Tom’s foolishness is clear in that he was prepared to risk the lives of Huck
and Jim in his adventure, which was totally unnecessary.
The thoughtful reader will find the end of this story unsatisfying.
Although the goal of obtaining Jim’s freedom has been achieved, it has proved too easy. It has been handed to him on a plate, unlike the struggle of countless slaves in real life to achieve their freedom.
One must also question the historical accuracy of the way in which slavery
has been depicted in this book. Slavery was only ended after a bloody civil war when the rights of the white masterclass to rule the black people were wrenched from their grip.
Jim’s slavery, which should have depicted the enslavement of the black race,
was relinquished by his master’s repentance on her deathbed unlike the fate of the millions of African American slaves brought to work on the plantations.
Although Twain was totally against discrimination and slavery, he in the end
fudges the situation and ends up showing the white slave masters in a favorable light.