Kevin, Mark, Grayson, Alec

Conmen Get Away Once Again

Duke and the King have just conned the town people into believing that they were the true brothers to Peter Wilks, as an attempt to take the money left to the distribution of the daughters and brothers. However, they’ve just been called out when two other men arrive claiming to be the same two brothers. They have brought all 4 men, as well as Huck, in to try and figure out who is telling the truth. After the attempted writing test fails to produce an answer, they turn to identifying the tattoo on Peter Wilks’ chest. Since the two men who prepared Mr. Wilks for burial do not remember seeing a tattoo, the only way to determine this is to dig the body up. In the midst of all the commotion and finding the gold that had recently gone missing, Huck is turned loose and flees off to the river, in hopes of a conmen-free escape with Jim. Only seconds after Huck and Jim get a start down the river, the Duke and the King come running their way. They had been forgotten in the commotion as well, allowing them to escape the mob, persecution free.


The Duke and the King have just been caught in their fraudulent ways by another group of conmen. This is to show that the Duke and the King are not one-of-a-kind, there are others exactly like them, out to do the same types of things. It's Twain's way of summarizing the American people of this time period.


“...the scratches he makes ain’t properly writing at all. Now, here’s some letters from—”

With this quote, we can see an example of all the excuses that are made by both groups of conmen. The handwriting test was something the lawyer used in an attempt to try to figure out who was lying.


“There—you’ve heard what he said! Was there any such mark on Peter Wilks’ breast?”

This quote exposes the fact that both groups are conmen. They came up with an answer to the question of what was tattooed on his breast but neither was right. This second attempt turned out as a failure as well, for they never got a real answer.

Conmen in Novel Context

Mark Twain used satire throughout the whole novel to show the problems in the south without directly stating those problems and in this chapter Twain used the con-men to depict some of the complications in people around this time and just some of the terrible things people did. This works with the entire novel because through Huck the reader sees all the problems and through Huck the reader sees the morally right and wrong decisions, and this chapter showed morally what was wrong and how this can characterize the American people of this time.

Further Questions

  • What effects do the acts of the conmen have on Jim and Huck?
  • What do these conmen have to say about Americans during this time period?

Image Citations

  • The Duke Wrote. Digital image. N.p., 29 Mar. 2011. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

  • The True Brothers. Digital image. N.p., 29 Mar. 2011. Web. 18 Nov. 2015.