In these final chapters the Duke and Dauphin sell Jim for $40. He is held as a well treated prisoner on the farm of Silas and Sally Phelps who are Tom Sawyer’s aunt and uncle. Huck has to pretend to be Tom Sawyer to avoid getting in trouble with the Phelps family. The Duke and Dauphin are eventually captured then tarred and feathered. Meanwhile Huck and Tom contrive a convoluted plan to help Jim escape. The plan, which was mostly Tom’s idea, ultimately puts Jim and the Phelps family through more trouble than necessary. The three narrowly escape the Phelps farm and Tom is shot as they flee. After being brought back to his aunt and Uncle’s Tom reveals all of the plans he and Huck had made for Jim’s escape, and his Aunt Polly correctly identifies the two boys to Sally and Silas Phelps. Tom also informs everyone that Miss Watson had died two months prior and she freed Jim in her will. The story ends with Tom, Huck, and Jim deciding to “…go for howling adventures amongst the Injuns, over in the Territory for a couple of weeks or so” Jim also assures Huck that his father hasn’t taken all of his money, and eventually reveals that Huck’s father was the dead man in the floating house.
To me, the most important part of this section, and possibly the entire novel, was on pages 328-331 when Huck discusses how he knows “Providence” was punishing him for helping Jim run away. Despite the fact that Huck knows he isn’t doing what the conventional church would say was right he feels more at ease “going to hell” than letting Jim be taken back into slavery. It is at this point that Huck separates his identity from the general population of the time. He makes an intrinsic decision about Jim because it is what he feels is right, not because its what he thinks he thinks society would tell him to do. This relates to Fredrick Douglass’ assertions that the church condoned slavery and even taught that it was right. Even Huck, who had few morals instilled in him, believed he was doing something wrong by helping a man obtain freedom.
In this section Tom Sawyer seems to hurt Huck and Jim almost more than he helps them. His many schemes and fanciful ideas for Jim do nothing more than prolong his imprisonment. He is so insistent on making Jim’s prison time consistent with various stories he almost becomes a nuisance. His final revelation that Jim had actually been free for two months was just the icing on the cake. I felt that his actions showed the juvenile side of his character.