Huckleberry Finn, chapters 9-17: A Friendship Grows

In the second section of Huckleberry Finn, which we read as we studied Americans' relentless westward expansion and horror-filled Gothic lives, Huck and Jim grow as friends.

Nowadays, interracial friendships and romances are so common, they seldom even get noticed. From Eminem and Rihanna singing in a duet to Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson in "Shanghai Knights," race isn't something we expect to fight about anymore.

But in Huck Finn's day, before the Civil War when slaves like Jim had no rights, race was a big deal. The idea of a white boy--even one as poor and woebegone as Huck--forming a real relationship with a black man like Jim was quite revolutionary.

Chapter 9 of your reading began with Huck and Jim setting off from Jackson Island down the Mississippi. Throughout a number of adventures, their loyalties were tested--especially as Huck found people all too willing to kidnap an escaped slave and return him for a nice reward. By Chapter 17, they had become separated after a harrowing midnight tangle with a steamboat.

For your essay, please write 100 to 150 words commenting on the nature of the friendship between Huck and Jim throughout chapters 9-17. Do you think they became friends, or are they just using each other to gain freedom? Please use details from the reading to support your answer, and use at least one quote.

Leave your answer as a comment in the box below, and be sure to include your name in your answer.


  1. At first I think Jim and Huck were just really happy to find someone they knew, but as the days went on they became close friends. They constantly looked out for each other. They never thought about how they were going out of their way to do something for the other. They told stories together, laughed together, and survived together. The part that really made me believe that they were close friends was when they were separated during the fog. Huck decided to play a joke on Jim. Huck told Jim that he'd dreamed everything and that Huck had been there the whole time. Jim went through the dream again and sorted out everything in his superstitious way making everything into signs. Huck then asked him what the trash on the raft stood for and Jim replied with the most serious face, "What do dey stan' for? I'se gwyne to tell you. When I got all wore out wid work, en wid de callin' for you, en went to sleep, my heart wuz mos' broke bekase you wuz los', en I didn' k'yer no' mo' what become er me en de raf'. En when I wake up en fine you back agin, all safe en soun', de tears come, en I could a got down on my knees en kiss yo' foot, I's so thankful. En all you wuz thinkin' 'bout wuz how you could make a fool uv ole Jim wid a lie. Dat truck dah is TRASH; en trash is what people is dat puts dirt on de head er dey fren's en makes 'em ashamed."
    Then Huck realized how great of a friend Jim was and said he could have kissed Jim's foot. This is what makes me believe that they care about each other not just about freedom.
    -Valorie Preston

  2. Jim and Huck at first used each other to gain freedom. When Huck was beginning to set out on his journey, he was very surprised and happy to see Jim. He felt like he did not have to do this journey alone. But throughout the chapters, Huck and Jim start to really like each other. They become real good friends. When they got seperated, Jim was really torn up about it. You could see how much they truely cared for each other when they got reunited. Both Jim and Huck now rely on each other for companionship and a helping hand on their journey down the Mississippi.

    -Emily Hutcherson

  3. Blake Holder

    I believe in both Huck's and Jim's case they use each other as both friends and means to becoming free. But I believe Huck is using Jim as more of a person to keep him company and to use him when Huck needs Jim. Examples of that is like said above when Huck ponders the thought of turning Jim in. Huck is not completly loyal I believe yet to Jim unlike Jim is to Huck. To Jim, Huck is Jim's best friend like he says while they are on the raft because he feels he can trust and rely on Huck whether Jim, Huck or us know if that is true or not.

  4. samuel niznik
    the relationship that is shared between huck and jim has been played through so many times by so many characters in so many stories across the generations for good reason; it is one of the greatest, most organicly formed relationships in american literature to this day. Mark Twain was a revolutionary in the factthat he wrote a tale of a white boy and a young black runaway fleeing together and becoming friends along the way. take the chapter where huck and jim believe that they have lost each other during the night, while in reality they were quite closeto each other. On the same island even. when the found each other in the morning, Jim explains to huck what happened. by explain, I mean he lied to Huck saying that it was all a dream, a very lucid dream. Huck's natural response was something along the lines of,"why would you say that to me? I'm genuinely hurt Jim."
    Of course the above quote is paraphrased, Huck is lacking in enough formal education to formulate such a sentence, but that isn't the message. the message is that Huck, the young white boy, had feelings of compassion for Jim, thee large black man on the run.

  5. I definitely think Jim and Huck have become real friends. Jim is so concerned and upset that something bad happened Huck when they get separated in the fog. When Huck finds Jim and wakes him up Jim says: Goodness gracious, is dat you, Huck? En you ain' dead--you ain' drownded--you's back agin? It's too good for true, honey, it's too good for true. Lemme look at you, chile, lemme feel o' you. No, you ain' dead! you's back agin, 'live and soun', jis de same ole Huck--de same ole Huck, thanks to goodness!" After this when Huck tricks him and Jim gets upset Huck feels bad. Then when Huck is going to turn Jim in and decides not to this just goes to show that they have developed a friendship.

  6. Huck Finn and Jim definitely have a friendship. I believe that their friendship began to thrive on the fact that they have so much in common. They are both running away in order to find freedom; they have both been abused. The only big difference between the two would be their age, and race.
    I feel like Jim and Huck bond while they are on their journey, especially while they are on the raft traveling down the river. They both share their stories for each other. Jim told Huck about how he wants to become free and get his wife and children back. He trusts Huck enough to tell him that; Huck promises he won't tell anybody. Even though Jim knows Huck could turn Jim in at anytime, Huck won't do it. Jim told Huck that he was the only friend he ever had. As of now, in the book, all the two have is each other. They can't make the journey on their own; they both have each other's backs.
    I think this book is portraying a unique, but beautiful friendship between these two boys.

    -Michaela Cundari-

  7. When Huck and Jim first started there journey it seemed as they both were using each other for to gain freedom, but as time progressed gaining not only a friendship but a "partner in crime." In Chapter 15 Huck finds himself losing the raft and Jim, in a thick fog as Huck describes it made him "sick and so scared I couldn't budge for most half a minute it seemed to me." Jim begin, as Huck described, whooping to find his friend that he'd gone astray from. Eventually when Huck reaches Jim he finds Jim with his head between his knees, asleep, with his arm hanging over the steering oar. The raft was trashed and littered up with leaves, branches, and dirt. Huck asks Jim, "Hello, Jim have I been asleep? Why didn't you stir me up?" Jim becomes extremely excited checking Huck out to make sure he's okay, not dead as Jim thought he was. Huck asks Jim if he's been drinking, trying to mess with his mind telling a white lie. Jim eventually becomes aware that Huck is lying to him, and feels ashamed for ever even caring for the boys' where abouts after that lying he did to him. After Jim becomes upset and walks into the wigwam Huck feels "so mean I could almost kissed his foot to get him to take it back." Eventually Huck get's the courage to apologize to Jim, so yes by the end of Chapter 17 I think Huck and Jim have become great friends. In the process of "using" each other for freedom they both found somethings more special in each other and that was unbreakable friendship.
    - Christina Acevedo

  8. I personally think Jim and Huck have a very close relationship. They do use eachother for gain, but it's the type of use a friend would use with another friend. They do, like all friends, have disagreements at times. An example of this is the disagreement about King Solomon that they had and how a King does nothing and gets everything at the same time. Both in a way are outcasts, and I think this really helps them to relate. One is a run away slave and the other is just a country hick. Another example of there friendship is when Huck first finds Jim on the island. Jim had not eatin hardly anything in days and Huck gets dinner for the both of them and Jim cooks it. I personally thinkJimand Huck's relationship becomes stronger do to the fact that they both must rely on eachother for different things. Cody Tittle

  9. Huck has complex feelings toward Jim. He helps as much as he can to get Jim to the North to be a free slave. I truly think he cares about him like his own brother, if he ever had one. But, the only problem is that he will still pull tricks on Jim. This thinking coming from the racial prejudices thought in his days that he is better than Jim. Although, all of this true Jim still cares for Huck greatly. He proved this to be true when he said” a dead man. Yes, indeedy; naked, too. He's been shot is da back. I reck'n he's ben dead two er three days. Come in, Huck, but doan' look at his face - it's too gashley"(50). They both care for eachother and that’s all that matters on a trip this important to both of them.

    ~Jessica Shaw

    Jim and Huck have a pretty good friendship in these chapters. They both become very close with each other. In one of the chapters, though, Huck leaves Jim and is feeling a like he should turn Jim in and tell someone about his where abouts; As he is about fifty yards away, he sees some men on a boat and thinks to himself that now is the time to tell someone; but it turns out, when the men were talking to Huck, he never had the guts to tell either of them, and so Jim was still safe. Jim then tells Huck is the bestest friend ever. Huck feels pretty bad at this point, but now they have been separated by the steamboat accident. They have not seen each other since.

  11. I think Huck and Jim arent really friends at first, but I think they become true friends. The reason I think they become true friends is because Huck does not turn Jim in as a runaway. Huck also beins to view Jim as an actual person instead of a slave. Also while Huck and Jim travel down the river it becomes apparent that Jim is more of a father figure to Huck than his biological father. Pap teaches the virtues of a life not worth living, while Jim gives Huck the proper fatherly support, compassion, and knowledge for Huck to become a man. Although Huck and Jim come from separate racial backgrounds their time together allows them to surpass their ethnic segregation and become true friends, and family.

    -Michael Gilley

  12. Rachel Miller
    In my opinion, Huck and Jim are using each other as friends, but for good reasons. Jim is trying to gain his own freedom, as well as his family's freedom. He is willing to do whatever it takes to have a better life for the future. Huck, on the other hand, is more interested in adventure. He just takes Jim along for the ride. During the time that Jim and Huck were separated due to fog, Huck didn't worried about Jim. In fact when they reunited he played a joke on him. Eventually Huck says, “It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a nigger,”, and he apologized. For these reasons I believe that they are simply using each other to get a "fuller" life.

  13. The idea of two friends being different races has long been thought of as unacceptable. Up untill the 1960's, it was rarely done. However, the friendship of Huck and Jim really pushed the boundaries of inter-racial relations back in the time it was written. They seem to be true friends. Huck even helped Jim get escape Jackson Island without getting him caught up. If Huck truly wanted to sell Jim off, he would have done it long before-hand. Jim was also thrilled to see Huck again after they were separated by the fog, another sign of their friendship. This kind of friendship has been played out many time on the silver screen in the past 30 years, but it still catches the attention of the American citizen as strongly as it did before, just in a good way.

    Nick Swift

  14. We see in these chapters that Huck, though open-minded, still largely subscribes to the Southern white conception of the world. When Jim assesses their adventure,Huck does admit that he has acted foolishly and jeopardized Jim’s safety, but he qualifies his assessment by adding that Jim is smart—for a black person.Huck's mind set changes through out these chapter towards Jim and stops thinking of him as a black person and more as a friend especially when given the dilemma of turning Jim in. Huck realizes that he would have felt worse for doing the right thing and turning Jim in than he does for not turning Jim in. This is how i beleive their friendship has grown throughout the book.

    By. Zach Briggs

  15. Marissa Barton:
    I believe Huck and Jim are dependent on each other to learn and grow from the obstacles they have to overcome. Huck relies on Jim to be a guidance, and Jim relies on Huck to be a loyal friend. On one foggy night, Huck gets separated from Jim and the raft. He tries to find Jim but they end up going two different directions. Eventually, Huck reunites with Jim who is sleeping on the raft. Jim is thrilled to see Huck alive, but Huck tries to trick Jim by pretending that he dreamt up their entire separation. But Jim notices all the dirt and tree branches that collected on the raft while it was adrift. He gets mad at Huck for making him look stupid and worrying about him this whole time. Huck is very immature at this moment and doesn‘t realize how much Jim really cares about him. As Huck says, “It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a nigger,” but he eventually apologizes and does not regret it. He feels bad about hurting Jim. Huck learns that not every decision should be based upon what Tom Sawyer would do. Huck is very conflicted with doing what is morally right than doing what feels naturally wrong. Jim sees the foolishness of Huck’s actions but it never stops him from playing a part in his adventures. Many times Jim protests when Huck schemes a prank or a hoax but eventually gives in to the boy. Even if it means crashing onto a wrecked steamboat full of robbers or even saving him from white slave hunters. Huck is after all a free white child who could turn in Jim at any time and collect a large reward for doing so. Although Huck has more rights than an older black man, Jim appreciates him for viewing him as a friend than an escaped salve. Black or white, child to man, they understand each other because of the many things they have in common despite their differences. They make a combination of what a good friendship should look like. They’re able to face all the horrendous consequences and somehow come out of it with a stronger bond than ever before.

  16. First of all, i do think they are becoming real good friends; kind of like a big brother/little brother relationship. One of the first signs that showed me Huck really cared about jim was when Huck dresses up like a girl and finds out Jim has a big target on his back. Huck quickly hurried back to the cave they found, then told Jim they must hurry to move out as soon as possible and must be more careful at all times. Another example of Jim showing his caring for Huck, is when Jim has a really strong dream that something had happen to Huck. Then, Jim wakes up and realizes Huck is there, all healthy and by his side. Most importanly, Jim tells Huck that he is so happy he is still there and he could kiss Huck's feet at that very second. I also noticed, at the end of chapter 16 Hucks tone sounds like hes really worried about Jim where- abouts. Those events in the book really showed me how much they were starting to care for each other.
    2nd Gio Silva

  17. Huck and Jim have become friends throughout these few chapters, but their friendship means something different to each other. To Jim, Huck is the only reason why he is (or was) so close to freedom.34 He is very thankful for Huck and his quick thinking. He said this to Huck:49 “Pretty soon, I’ll be shouting for joy, and I’ll say it’s all because of Huck. I’m a free man, and I couldn’t have been free if it hadn’t been for Huck—it was all Huck. Jim won’t ever forget you, Huck. You’re the best friend Jim’s ever had, and you’re the ONLY friend old Jim’s got now.”

    In contrast, Huck makes many attempts to turn Jim in. He doesn't really think about their friendship.

    -Amy Hagood

  18. Alyssa Fullerton

    As I read further into the book, I see Huck and Jim slowly becoming friends. They are by no means close friends or anything of the sort, but they aren't just using each other. They have become companions during their adventures.
    For example, Huck had the chance to turn Jim in and get the ransom money, but he didn't. He remained a loyal friend to Jim. If they weren't friends, surely Huck would have given him away.

    Also, when Jim and Huck were seperated for a while and were reunited, Jim was thrilled to see Huck alive and well. If they were simply just along for the ride together, surely Jim wouldn't have cared so much that Huck was safe.

    As their story progresses, I feel they will become even closer. Sort of a father-son type of relationship.

  19. Huck and Jim have one of those movie type relationships where it starts out strictly business and turns into a real friendship. In the beginning of their Journey down river, they depended upon each other for survival. Even though they argue a few times, their friendship continues to grow stronger. This friendship can be seen when Huck decides to not turn in Jim (because Jim is an escaped slave and could be turned in for a reward). Huck could be described as at war with himself because he is the reason that Jim is almost free. Racism always dies hard.
    Nathan Gregory

  20. I think they became friends. Huck really never had a true friend until he met Jim, and after spending so much time with each other they became close. Even though Jim was black Huck learned that race did not matter and that Jim really did care for him and would protect him from anything bad. At first though Huck teased Jim and played jokes on him trying to make him feel dumb. And I think when Huck realized Jim actually had feelings and missed his family he realized they actually had similarities. Jim says in chapter nine Jim, this is nice," I says. "I wouldn't want to be nowhere else but here. Pass me along another hunk of fish and some hot corn-bread." That to me sounds like they really are friends.

    Kimmi Barnett

  21. In my opinion, I believe Jim and Huck became friends throughout these chapters. They became friends by playing poker and gambling with their provisions. Huck wanted to learn "black magic" and Jim knew it, so Jim taught Huck this because I believe Huck respects it more than life. Huck quoted in the book how he adored black magic more than anything he has ever had or owns. They became and realized how close they had became over time after they got reunited from the smog. Jim looks at Huck like a brother/son. They will continue to grow hopefully. Once they were separated and got back together, Jim opened up to Huck and shared his aspirations in life about going to college and all his near future dreams.

  22. When Huck and Jim began their journey down the Mississippi, they really began to connecting. They started to appreciate and depend on each other. They began sharing views, like Jim's belief in the black magic. Huck already believed in the black magic prior to Jim so they had things in common. They gambled and had fun together. What really made me think that they became good friends is when Huck was supposedly dead and he comes back and Jim started to freak out and wonder why he lied to him. That showed that Jim really cared a lot for Huck.

    -Chase Howell

  23. Huck had some very humbling experiences in this section of the book. When he came back to Jim realized that Jim actually cared for him as a true friend, Huck felt bad for leading Jim on to think he was dead. He and Jim also became closer friends. Huck fell in love with Jim's black magic and was very enthusiastic about it. He even said he loved black magic more than anything. This was just one thing that Jim and Huck had in common to help them build a truly strong friendship. Dajion Whitfield

  24. Jim and Huck's relationship has change a lot since the beginning of the story. At first Huck just saw Jim as a slow, dumb slave that would fall for anything. And Jim saw Huck as a white country hick that was stupid.
    As they go on their adventure they become very close and good friends. They find out more about each other. When Jim got separated from Huck in that fog he realize how much he really liked Huck and how sad he would be if he was gone. And when Huck try to tell Jim that it was just a dream this really hurt Jim and Huck saw that he meant a lot to him, and he re grated playing that trick on Jim.

    Elliot Unger

  25. Justin Finch
    I believe Huck and Jim slowely begin to grow on each other, not only because they are all alone, but because they enjoy travels with each other, and share travels together. When Huck and Jim get seperated from the raft together, they both panick trying to find each other fearing the worst, While Huck treats the friendship they have as a sort of joke, I think he stills counts him as a friend, perhaps not an equall, but a friend. If they were using each other to get freedom, Jim would treat Huck more like a property, something that he'd want okay, but not something to search forever for and be worried stiff that he was dead. This tells me that he genuinely cares for huck, not that he's just using him.

  26. I think that Huck and Jim are actually friends. I think Jim thinks Huck is a friend because, in the story, when they get separated through the fog, Jim goes crazy because he thought something had happened to Huck. When they are reunited, Jim is so happy and excited that he is okay.
    Then an example of Huck thinking that Jim is a friend is when he feels guilty because he believes that he is helping a slave run away. Yet, when Huck goes to the police station to tell them about Jim, he changes his mind. He simply tells them that he forgot why he was there.
    So, in my opinion, they are true friends; each is worried about the other and doesn't want something bad happening to the other.

    -Jordan Yates

  27. During Jim and Huck's journey down the Mississippi River they started off as companions. I'm sure both did not want to be alone so they were kind of glad they found each other. In chapter 12, they made the decision together what they were going to drop from the "list of things they would steal." It made them both feel better about themselves because Huck was torn between what his father said was right and what the Widow Douglas taught him. Jim agreed with both statements: Pap told Huck stealing was okay if you were to pay them back, and Widow Douglas said stealing is stealing and it is not okay. Also in the same chapter, you could tell Huck was the more independent character and did not really want Jim there as much as Jim probably wanted Huck with him. Huck said "I wish Tom Sawyer was here", stating that this so called adventure would be much better off if it were Tom by his side. On the other hand, Jim left Huck when Huck wanted to scope out the wrecked boat from which he heard conversation. Jim did not want to be in that situation and did not really care if Huck came out alive or dead. This would make me think Jim is unreliable, but I am not sure how Huck would have taken the act. In chapter 14, Huck stated that "Jim had an uncommon level head, for a POTATO because he knew how his situation was and did not act a fool about it. Huck read to Jim and his made me think Huck liked Jim and was growing to like his company; that being with Jim wasn't too bad after all. They got into a heated argument not long after about King Solomon. Jim was convinced he knew more about King Solomon, and Huck knew he could not get through such a hard-headed person, so he let the argument slide and went on about something else. It made me wonder whether Huck thought he was better than Jim by letting it slide, or Jim thought he was better than Huck for knowing more. It could really go both ways. By chapter 16, Huck and Jim had gone through a lot together. Huck fooled Jim by saying getting los' in the fog was just a dream to Jim. This was completely untrue and I know that Huck must have thought he was better than Jim and could out smart him by convincing him the entire thing was true. He fell for it but not after five minutes did Jim realize he was being fooled and made Huck feel pretty bad. They have an on/off relationship as friends and it pretty much depends on how they are feeling each day. They struggle with trusting each other and I know in each one of their hearts, their main goal is to get away as far as possible from their hometown. I know Jim relies on Huck because he was so upset when he thought Huck had disappeared in the fog. So I just can't wait to see where the story leads me.....

    Kelsey Boatright

  28. I think that Huck and Jim may have started out just staying with each other because of the situation they were both in. Jim and Huck take off down the river as too people who just both want freedom, but as we see often in life, people grow on each other, and when you are in a situation like theirs, race will soon not matter. This is proved when Huck and Jim had gotten separated and Jim was clearly effected. You begin to question how Huck feels because of the joke he decides to try and make out of the situation, but when he realizes he has hurt Jim and is willing to humble himself to a Flamingo, you see a real friendship forming. Huck and Jim are clearly forming bonds together. When Huck tricks the people looking for slaves saying his family has small pox, Huck would not have done that if he hadn't cared for Jim, and Jim would not of called Huck his only friend. I believe they are forming a strong friendship that will be tested and grow throughout the book.

    -Grant Elmer

  29. Macy Troglen

    Sorry I'm a little late, limewire destroyed my computer coincidentally the day our blog was due, and I'm doing this in the library first block before I get to your class. Anyway, on to Huck Finn and comparing his and Jim's relationship. He and Jim got closer by the end of Ch. 17. You have to put into consideration that he was a slave of his from the very beginning. Huck has come a long way with him, from he and Tom playing wicked tricks on him while he was sleeping, making him think something of witches doing it; where as now, he loves Jim's belief in superstition and as the book goes on, Huck begins to believe in it as well. Jim sort of seemed to always of cared about Huck, getting upset with him for faking his death and all.. but again.. as the book goes on.. Huck's appreciation for Jim's life and well being is reciprocated. They also start to have long conversations, getting to know each other more than just a slave runaway and a lost soul of a boy.

  30. I think that there friendship was true, not that they were using each other. Throughout the book the fact that he was a slave was always there, but he never really brought that fact up. When Huck was playing tricks on Jim it showed that he was joking around, and to me if they were using one another then I don't think they'd really bother with all of that. The conversations they have to I feel the same way about.

    -Allison Pate

  31. Thank you for another great article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a perfect way of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I am on a look out for such information.


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