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American Literature books summary

Jane the truth, but asks her to wait at a relative's house until eleven

that night to give him time to get away, since the fate of another person

hangs in the balance. He tells her about the Royal Nonesuch incident,

saying that town will provide witnesses against the frauds. He instructs

her to leave without seeing her "uncles," since her innocent face would

give away their secret. He leaves her a note with the location of the

money. She promises to remember him forever, and pray for him. Though Huck

will never see her again, he will think of her often. Huck meets Susan and

Joanna, and says Mary Jane has gone to see a sick relative. Joanna cross-

examines him about this, but he manages to trick them into staying quiet

about the whole thing{almost as well as Tom Sawyer would have. But later,

the auction is interrupted by a mob{ bringing the real Harvey and William


Chapters 29-31 Summary

The real Harvey, in an authentic English accent, explains the delay:

their luggage has been misdirected, and his brother's arm has been broken,

making him unable to sign. The doctor again declares The Duke and Dauphin

frauds, and has the crowd bring both real and fraudulent Wilks brothers to

a tavern for examination. The frauds draw suspicion when they are unable to

produce the six thousand dollars. A lawyer friend of the deceased has the

Duke, Dauphin, and the real Harvey sign a piece of paper, then compares the

writing samples to letters he has from the real Harvey.

The frauds are disproved, but the Dauphin doesn't give up. So the real

Harvey declares he knows of a tattoo on his brother's chest, asking the

undertaker who dressed the body to back him up. But after the Dauphin and

Harvey say what they think the tattoo is, the undertaker declares there

wasn't one at all. The mob cries out for the blood of all four men, but the

lawyer instead sends them out to exhume the body and check for the tattoo

themselves. The mob carries the four and Huckleberry with them. The mob is

shocked to discover the gold in the coffn. In the excitement, Huck escapes.

Passing the Wilks's house, he notices a light in the upstairs window.

Huck steals a canoe and makes his way to the raft, and, exhausted,

shoves off. Huck dances for joy on the raft, but his heart sinks as the

Duke and Dauphin approach in a boat.

The Dauphin nearly strangles Huck in Chapter Thirty, out of anger at

his desertion. But the Duke stops him. They explain that they escaped after

the gold was found. The thieves start arguing about which one of the two

hid the gold in the coffn, to come back for later. But they make up and go

to sleep.

They take the raft downstream without stopping for several days. The

Duke and Dauphin try several scams on various towns, without success. The

two start to have secret discussions, worrying Jim and Huck, who resolve to

ditch them at the first opportunity. Finally, the Duke, Dauphin, and Huck

go ashore in one town to feel it out. The Duke and Dauphin get into a fight

in a tavern, and Huck takes the chance to escape. But back at the raft,

there is no sign of Jim. A boy explains that a man recognized Jim as a

runaway from a handbill they had found, offering two hundred dollars for

him in New Orleans{the handbill the Duke had printed earlier. But he said

he had to leave suddenly, and so sold his interest for forty dollars. Huck

is disgusted by the Dauphin's trick. He would like to write to Miss Watson

to fetch Jim, so he could at least be home and not in New Orleans. But he

realizes she would simply sell him downstream anyway, and he would get in

trouble as well. The predicament is surely God's punishment for his helping

Jim. Huck tries to pray for forgiveness, but cannot.

He writes the letter to Miss Watson giving Jim up. But thinking of the

time he spent with Jim, of his kind heart and their friendship, Huck

trembles. After a minute he decides, "All right then, I'll go to hell!" He

resolves to "steal Jim out of slavery." He goes in his store-bought clothes

to see Phelps, the man who is holding Jim. He finds the Duke putting up

posters for the Royal Nonesuch. Huck concocts a story about how he wandered

the town, but didn't find Jim or the raft. The Duke says he sold Jim to a

man forty miles away, and sends Huck on the three day trip to get him.

Chapters 32-35 Summary

Huck goes back to the Phelps's house in Chapter Thirty-two. A bunch of

hounds threaten him, but a slave woman calls them off. The white mistress

of the house, Sally, comes out, delighted to see the boy she is certain is

her nephew, Tom. Sally asks why he has been delayed the last several days.

He explains that a cylinder- head on the steamboat blew out. She asks

whether anyone got hurt, and he replies no, but it killed a black person.

The woman is relieved that no one was hurt. Huck is nervous about not

having any information on his identity, but when Sally's husband, Silas,

returns, he shouts out for joy that Tom Sawyer has finally arrived! Hearing

a steamboat go up the river, Huck heads out to the docks, supposedly to get

his luggage, but really to head off Tom should he arrive.

Huck interrupts Tom's wagon coming down the road in Chapter Thirty-

three. Tom is at first startled by the "ghost," but is eventually convinced

that Huck is alive. He even agrees to help Huck free Jim. Huck is shocked

by this: "Tom Sawyer fell, considerable, in my estimation." Tom follows

Huck to the Phelps's a half hour later. The isolated family is thrilled to

have another guest. Tom introduces himself as William Thompson from Ohio,

stopping on his way to visit his uncle nearby. But Tom slips and kisses his

aunt, who is outraged by such familiarity from a stranger. Taken aback for

a few moments, Tom recovers by saying he is another relative, Sid Sawyer,

and this has all been a joke. Later, walking through town, Huck sees the

Duke and Dauphin taken by a mob, tarred and feathered on a rail. Jim had

told on the pair. Tom feels bad for the two, and his ill feelings toward

them melt away. "Human beings can be awful cruel to one another," Huck


Huck concludes that a conscience is useless, since it makes you feel

bad for everyone. Tom agrees. Huck is impressed by Tom's intelligence when

he skillfully figures out that Jim is being held in a shed. Huck's plan to

free Jim is to steal the key and make off with Jim by night. Tom belittles

this plan for its simplicity and lack of showmanship. Tom's plan is fifteen

times better than Huck's for its style{it might even get all three killed.

Meanwhile, Huck is incredulous that respectable Tom is going to sacrifice

his reputation by helping a slave escape.

Huck and Tom get Jim's keeper, a superstitious slave, to let them see

him. When Jim cries out for joy, Tom tricks Jim's keeper into thinking the

cry a trick some witches had played on him. Tom and Huck promise to dig Jim


Tom is upset in Chapter Thirty-five. Innocent uncle Phelps has taken so

few precautions to guard Jim, they have to invent all the obstacles to his

rescue. Tom says they must saw Jim's chain off instead of just lifting it

off the bedstead, since that's how it's done in all the books. Similarly,

Jim requires a rope ladder, a moat, and a shirt on which to keep a journal,

presumably in his own blood. Sawing his leg off to escape would also be a

nice touch. But since they're pressed for time, they will dig Jim out with

case-knives (large kitchen knives).

Chapters 36-39 Summary

Out late at night, Huck and Tom give up digging with the case-knives

after much fruitless efiort. They use pick-axes instead, but agree to "let

on"{pretend{that they are using case-knives. The next day, Tom and Huck

gather candlesticks, candles, spoons, and a tin plate. Jim can etch a

declaration of his captivity on the tin plate using the other objects, then

throw it out the window to be read by the world, like in the novels. That

night, the two boys dig their way to Jim, who is delighted to see them. He

tells them that Sally and Silas have been to visit and pray with him. He

doesn't understand the boys' scheme but agrees to go along. Tom thinks the

whole thing enormously fun and "intellectural." He tricks Jim's keeper,

Nat, into bringing Jim a "witch pie" to help ward off the witches that have

haunted Nat.

The missing shirt, candles, sheets, and other articles Huck and Tom

stole to give Jim get Aunt Sally mad at everyone but the two boys in

Chapter Thirty-seven. To make up, Huck and Tom secretly plug up the holes

of the rats that have supposedly stolen everything, confounding Uncle Silas

when he goes to do the job. By removing and then replacing sheets and

spoons, the two boys so confuse Sally that she loses track of how many she

has. It takes a great deal of trouble to put the rope ladder (made of

sheets) in the witch's pie, but at last it is finished and they give it to

Jim. Tom insists Jim scratch an inscription on the wall of the shed, with

his coat of arms, the way the books say. Making the pens from the spoons

and candlestick is a great deal of trouble, but they manage. Tom creates an

unintentionally humorous coat of arms and set of mournful declarations for

Jim to inscribe on the wall. When Tom disapproves of writing on a wooden,

rather than a stone wall, they go steal a millstone. Tom then tries to get

Jim to take a rattlesnake or rat into the shack to tame, and to grow a ower

to water with his tears. Jim protests against the ridiculously unnecessary

amount of trouble Tom wants to create. Tom replies that these are

opportunities for greatness.

Huck and Tom capture rats and snakes in Chapter Thirty-nine,

accidentally infesting the Phelps house with them. Aunt Sally becomes

wildly upset when the snakes start to fall from the rafters onto her or her

bed. Tom explains that that's just how women are. Jim, meanwhile, hardly

has room to move with all the wildlife in his shed. Uncle Silas decides it

is time to sell Jim, and starts sending out advertisements. So Tom writes

letters, signed an "unknown friend," to the Phelps warning of trouble. The

family is terrified. Tom finishes with a longer letter pretending to be

from a member of a band of desperate gangsters out to steal Jim. The author

has found religion and so is warning them to block the plan.

Chapters 40-43 Summary

Fifteen uneasy local men with guns are in the Phelps's front room. Huck

goes to the shed to warn Tom and Jim. Tom is excited to hear about the

fifteen armed men. A group of men rush into the shed. In the darkness Tom,

Huck, and Jim escape through the hole. Tom makes a noise going over the

fence, attracting the attention of the men, who shoot at them as they run.

But they make it to the hidden raft, and set off downstream, delighted with

their success{especially Tom, who has a bullet in the leg as a souvenir.

Huck and Jim are taken aback by Tom's wound. Jim says they should get a

doctor{what Tom would do if the situation were reversed. Jim's reaction

confirms Huck's belief that Jim is "white inside."

Huck finds a doctor in Chapter Forty-one and sends him to Tom. The next

morning, Huck runs into Silas, who takes him home. The place is filled with

farmers and their wives, all discussing the weird contents of Jim's shed,

and the hole. They conclude a band of (probably black) robbers of amazing

skill must have tricked not only the Phelps and their friends, but the

original band of desperadoes. Sally will not let Huck out to find Tom,

since she is so sad to have lost Tom and does not want to risk another boy.

Huckleberry is touched by her concern and vows never to hurt her again.

Silas has been unable to find Tom in Chapter Forty- two. They have

gotten a letter from Tom's Aunt Polly, Sally's sister. But Sally casts it

aside when she sees Tom, semi-conscious, brought in on a mattress,

accompanied by a crowd including Jim, in chains, and the doctor. Some of

the local men would like to hang Jim, but are unwilling to risk having to

compensate Jim's master. So they treat Jim roughly, and chain him hand and

foot inside the shed. The doctor intervenes, saying Jim isn't bad, since he

sacrificed his freedom to help nurse Tom. Sally, meanwhile, is at Tom's

bedside, glad that his condition has improved. Tom wakes and gleefully

details how they set Jim free. He is horrified to learn that Jim is now in

chains. He explains that Jim was freed in Miss Watson's will when she died

two months ago.

She regretted ever having considered selling Jim down the river. Just

then, Aunt Polly walks into the room. She came after Sally mysteriously

wrote her that Sid Sawyer was staying with her. After a tearful reunion

with Sally, she identifies Tom and Huckleberry, yelling at both boys for

their misadventures. When Huckleberry asks Tom in the last chapter what he

planned to do once he had freed the already- freed Jim, Tom replies that he

was going to repay Jim for his troubles and send him back a hero. When Aunt

Polly and the Phelps hear how Jim helped the doctor, they treat him much


Tom gives Jim forty dollars for his troubles. Jim declares that the

omen of his hairy chest has come true. Tom makes a full recovery, and has

the bullet inserted into a watch he wears around his neck. He and Huck

would like to go on another adventure, to Indian Territory (present-day

Oklahoma). But Huck worries Pap has taken all his money. Jim tells him that

couldn't have happened: the dead body they found way back on the houseboat,

that Jim would not let Huck see, belonged to Pap. Huck has nothing more to

write about. He is "rotten glad," since writing a book turned out to be

quite a task. He does not plan any future writings. Instead, he hopes to

make the trip out to Indian Territory, since Aunt Sally is already trying

to "sivilize" him, and he's had enough of that.


Robert Penn Warren was one of the twentieth century's outstanding men

of letters. He found great success as a novelist, a poet, a critic, and a

scholar, and enjoyed a career showered with acclaim. He won two Pulitzer

Prizes, was Poet Laureate of the United States, and was presented with a

Congressional Medal of Fr edom. He founded the Southern Review and was an

important contributor to the New Criticism of 1930s and '40s.

Born in 1905, Warren showed his exceptional intelligence from an early

age; he attended college at Vanderbilt University, where he befriended some

of the most important contemporary figures in Southern literature,

including Allan Tate and John Crowe Ransom, and where he won a Rhodes

Scholarship to study at Oxford University in England. During a stay in

Italy, Warren wrote a verse drama called Proud Flesh,which dealt with

themes of political power and moral corruption. As a professor at Louisiana

State University, Warren had observed the rise of Louisiana political boss

Huey Long, who embodied, in many ways, the ideas Warren tried to work into

Proud Flesh. Unsatisfied with the result, Warren began to rework his

elaborate drama into a novel, set in the contemporary South, and based in

part on the person of Huey Long.

The result was All the King'sMen, Warren's best and most acclaimed

book. First published in 1946, Allthe King's Men is one of the best

literary documents dealing with the American South during the Great

Depression. The novel won the Pulitzer Prize, and was adapted into a movie

that won an Academy Award in 1949.

All the King's Men focuses on the lives of Willie Stark, an upstart

farm boy who rises through sheer force of will to become Governor of an

unnamed Southern state during the 1930s, and Jack Burden, the novel's

narrator, a cynical scion of the state's political aristocracy who uses his

abilities as a historical researcher to help Willie blackmail and control

his enemies.

The novel deals with the large question of the responsibility

individuals bear for their actions within the turmoil of history, and it is

perhaps appropriate that the impetus of the novel's story comes partly from

real historical occurrences.

Jack Burden is entirely a creation of Robert Penn Warren, but there

are a number of important parallels between Willie Stark and Huey Long, who

served Louisiana as both Governor and Senator from 1928 until his death in


Like Huey Long, Willie Stark is an uneducated farm boy who passed the

state bar exam; like Huey Long, he rises to political power in his state by

instituting liberal reform designed to help the state's poor farmers. And

like Huey Long, Willie is assassinated at the peak of his power by a doctor

Dr. Adam Stanton in Willie's case, Dr. Carl A. Weiss in Long's. (Unlike

Willie, however, Long was assassinated after becoming a Senator, and was in

fact in the middle of challenging Franklin D. Roosevelt for the

Presidential nomination of the Democratic Party.)


Jack Burden -- Willie Stark's political right-hand man, the narrator

of the novel and in many ways its protagonist. Jack comes from a prominent

family (the town he grew up in, Burden's Landing, was named for his

ancestors), and knows many of the most important people in the state.

Despite his aristocratic background, Jack allies himself with the

liberal, amoral Governor Stark, to the displeasure of his family and

friends. He uses his considerable skills as a researcher to uncover the

secrets of Willie's political enemies. Jack was once married to Lois

Seager, but has left her by the time of the novel. Jack's main

characteristics are his intelligence and his curious lack of ambition; he

seems to have no agency of his own, and for the most part he is content to

take his direction from Willie. Jack is also continually troubled by the

question of motive and responsibility in history: he quit working on his

PhD thesis in history when he decided he could not comprehend Cass

Mastern's motives. He develops the Great Twitch theory to convince himself

that no one can be held responsible for anything that happens. During the

course of the novel, however, Jack rejects the Great Twitch theory and

accepts the idea of responsibility.

Willie Stark -- Jack Burden's boss, who rises from poverty to become

the governor of his state and its most powerful political figure. Willie

takes control of the state through a combination of political reform (he

institutes sweeping liberal measures designed to tax the rich and ease the

burden on the state's many poor farmers) and underhanded guile (he

blackmails and bullies his enemies into submission). While Jack is

intelligent and inactive, Willie is essentially all motive power and

direction. The extent of his moral philosophy is his belief that everyone

and everything is bad, and that moral action involves making goodness out

of the badness.

Willie is married to Lucy Stark, with whom he has a son, Tom. But his

voracious sexual appetite leads him into a number of afiairs, including one

with Sadie Burke and one with Anne Stanton. Willie is murdered by Adam

Stanton toward the end of the novel.

Anne Stanton -- Jack Burden's first love, Adam Stanton's sister, and,

for a time, Willie Stark's mistress. The daughter of Governor Stanton, Anne

is raised to believe in a strict moral code, a belief which is threatened

and nearly shattered when Jack shows her proof of her father's wrongdoing.

Adam Stanton -- A brilliant surgeon and Jack Burden's closest

childhood friend. Anne Stanton's brother. Jack persuades Adam to put aside

his moral reservations about Willie and become director of the new hospital

Willie is building, and Adam later cares for Tom Stark after his injury.

But two revelations combine to shatter Adam's worldview: he learns that his

father illegally protected Judge Irwin after he took a bribe, and he learns

that his sister has become Willie Stark's lover. Driven mad with the

knowledge, Adam assassinates Willie in the lobby of the Capitol towards the

end of the novel.

Judge Montague Irwin -- A prominent citizen of Burden's Landing and a

former state Attorney General; also a friend to the Scholarly Attorney and

a father figure to Jack. When Judge Irwin supports one of Willie's

political enemies in a Senate election, Willie orders Jack to dig up some

information on the judge. Jack discovers that his old friend accepted a

bribe from the American Electric Power Company in 1913 to save his

plantation. (In return for the money, the judge dismissed a case against

the Southern Belle Fuel Company, a sister corporation to American

Electric.) When he confronts the judge with this information, the judge

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