Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Chapters XX-XXIX

Norman Rockwell, 1940
            The duke and dauphin involve Huck and Jim in several of their dangerous expeditions on shore where the lawless pair perform Shakespeare for the townspeople and rip them off.  They get away with over $400.  In addition, the wicked pair keep Jim tied up like a “captured runaway” so they may travel by day, further putting Huck and Jim in jeopardy.

            On a more sobering night, Huck learns how much Jim misses his family, and he tells Huck about the day he realized his four-year old daughter had become deaf from scarlet fever.

            Meanwhile, the debauchery continues, and the worst comes when the dauphin hears of a recently deceased man, Mr. Wilkes, and the fortune he has left to his two brothers in England.  The duke and dauphin, pretending to be English, arrive at the deceased man’s home and swindle the money.  Huck’s conscience cannot take much more, and he is able to recapture the money from the duke and dauphin and hide it in the coffin with the intent to rightly return it to the dead man’s daughters.

            In the meantime, the duke and dauphin, still acting as the dead man’s brothers, sell off his property including separating a slave mother from her children, causing great distress; Huck cannot understand it.  He finally tells one of the daughters the truth about the duke and dauphin. 

            When the real brothers arrive from England, they must prove who they are.  In true Don Quixote fashion, it is one farfetched stunt after another, until the coffin is opened to examine a tattoo on the buried man; and the missing money is found inside. 

            Huck is able to escape the exploits of the duke and dauphin, expecting they are about to be caught for their deceitfulness, but all jaws drop, including my own, when the duke and dauphin make their way safely to the raft again.  

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