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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Mark Twain
Summary Chapters 7–10
Summary Chapters 7–10

Two episodes in these chapters, however, remind Huck and Jim of the looming threat from outside and give us the sense that this fantasy on the island is unlikely to last. The first involves the house that floats down the river past the island. The man inside the house has clearly been murdered, and the house bears other marks of human vices: playing cards, whiskey bottles, and obscene graffiti. Although Huck and Jim gather some useful goods from the house, it reminds them that Jackson’s Island is not completely isolated from the outside world. The second incident involves Jim’s rattlesnake bite, a direct result of a stupid prank Huck tries to play on Jim. As in the biblical Garden of Eden, snakes lurk on this island paradise and hurt people who behave unwisely. Once again, Huck and Jim are reminded that no location is safe for them.

These two incidents also flesh out some important aspects of the relationship between Huck and Jim. In the episode with the rattlesnake, Huck acts like a child, and Jim gets hurt. In both incidents, Jim uses his knowledge to benefit both of them but also seeks to protect Huck: he refuses to let Huck see the body in the floating house, for it is the body of Huck’s father. Jim is an intelligent and caring adult who has escaped out of love for his family—and he displays this same caring aspect toward Huck here. While Huck’s motives are equally sound, he is still a child and frequently behaves like one. In a sense, Jim and Huck together make up a sort of alternative family in an alternative place, apart from the society that has only harmed them up to this point.