The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Mark Twain
Contributed by Cinderella Domino
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Chapter 11
Summary

A test is arranged to see who are the real Wilks, and as the $6,000 is missing, the Duke and Dauphin are viewed with the most suspicion.  Papers are signed so that the handwriting can be compared, but the Duke and Dauphin will not give up their claim easily.

The real Harvey says that his brother had a tattoo on his chest and arranges with the undertaker to confirm this; in fact there is no tattoo.  When the Dauphin confirms that there was a tattoo on the brother’s chest, Harvey and the undertaker reveal the actual truth.

The townsfolk cry out for the lynching of the four men, but the lawyer says that the body should be exhumed to discover the truth.  They are all shocked to find the gold in the coffin and during the excitement Huck escapes, steals a canoe and makes his way to the raft, but his heart sinks when he is followed closely by the Duke and Dauphin approaching in another boat.

The Dauphin tries to strangle Huck because of his betrayal, but Duke separates them.

They explain that after the gold was found, there was confusion and they were able to make their escape.

After a few days of floating downstream they arrive at another town and in a local bar, the Duke and Dauphin get involved in a fight and Huck decides to escape from them. When he goes back to the raft, he finds Jim has gone.  He finds a boy who tells him that a man has taken Jim away after they had found the handbill offering $200 reward, this being the handbill, which Duke, had printed.

Huck decides that he will try and find Jim and if necessary, steal him out of slavery.  He finds out that the man holding Jim is Phelps (Tom Sawyer’s uncle). He finds Duke who is putting up posters for his show The Royal Nonesuch, and Huck makes up a story about how he wandered the town, but didn’t find Jim or the raft. Duke says he sold Jim to Phelps for $40.00.

Analysis

The conflict, which Huckleberry has had between his own conscience and the white society’s values, reaches a climax.  He decides to do all that he can to help Jim. The struggle which Huck has had in how to deal with Jim, who is the property of Miss Watson, is finally resolved when he decides that Jim would be better off free.

Huck’s decision to forsake society’s instructions and help Jim is the climax of the novel.

Many critics have argued that the book deteriorates from this point onwards and loses its interest and purpose.

Twain again gives instances of the southerner’s tendency to embark on irrational violence. Again another lynching is threatened when the scam is revealed concerning Duke and Dauphin and their accomplices Huck and Jim. The test, which the four claimants to the Wilks’ estate undergo, takes place in a tavern rather than in a courtroom and it is clear that those who fail the test will be lynched. However, this is no sort of justice at all because the frauds are able to escape from the chaos, which ensues when the gold is found.

The true evil of Duke and Dauphin is revealed. Not content to swindle the Wilks sisters and split up a slave family, they sell Jim, their traveling companion for $40.00.

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