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An American Journey - Huck Finn

Page history last edited by Russell 9 years, 2 months ago


Fri, Jan 21


DUE TODAY: Final version of Huck Finn essay due

HOMEWORK TONIGHT: Of the texts read this term, which do you think brings a message to readers that is the most important for the sake of humanity? Explain your reasoning with examples from the text of your choice. No more than two pages is necessary, and three is the absolute maximum.

FOCUS TODAY: Course review


The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Superintendent’s Position

Read and respond to the following prompts, referring to your paper where necessary.

  1. Prove you wrote the paper from the correct point of view. How does your reader know you are writing as the superintendent of schools?
  2. Who is the intended audience of this piece? How does the style of your writing meet the expectations and needs of that audience?
  3. What is your position on the book, and what are the main arguments you used to support this position?
  4. Which of the main points of the opposing argument did you mention?
  5. Please explain: When all is said and done, does your argument rely most on: A) The reader’s ability to be logical and rational  B) The reader’s emotional response   C) The reader’s ethical and moral stance
  6. What paragraph represents an example of your best writing? Explain your choice and number your paragraphs so this example can be easily found.
  7. Is there anything missing or lacking in your paper that you would like to disclaim before it is read and graded?


In the PBS program “Born to Trouble” concerning Twain and his novel “The Adventures of Huckeberry Finn” the interviewees claim that all authors aim to “trouble” readers by challenging assumptions. Some say that literature transforms the reader. Good literature causes you to be a different person after experiencing a text. Literature makes you think about how you see yourself, others, and the world around you.


Sit in a group of three to four students. As a group, create one small, two-column matrix with the text titles from the term on the left, and on the right, the messages they brought to us about human nature, society, and humanity. When done, turn it in to me w/ all names at the top. Take maybe 15 minutes.


Now consider by yourself and respond quickly over maybe 1/2; page: If literature is transformative, then what text from this semester presents the most transformative message for humanity? Which book is a text that shakes up the reader and contains themes and issues relevant to all of society? (ONE BOOK!)


YOUR HOMEWORK: Take your quick-write and develop it with these improvements:

  • Make a formal claim at the beginning that presents your position
  • Use evidence from the text you’ve chosen to support your point – character actions, plot, etc.
  • Explain how the plot and characters illustrate or reveal the author’s theme or purpose
  • Explain why that theme or purpose is important for all humanity



Thu, Jan 20


DUE TODAY: Nothing

HOMEWORK: Final revisions to the Huck Finn essay question

FOCUS TODAY: Class discussion - the race issue


Class discussion on whether the issue of race should play a significant role in judging the novel's merits


Wed, Jan 19


DUE TODAY: Nothing

HOMEWORK: Additional revisions to the Huck Finn essay question, adding relevant info from the video

FOCUS TODAY: Tackling the race issue via video


"Born to Trouble" video from PBS - tackles the race issue in the novel, providing multiple viewpoints


Tue, Jan 18


DUE TODAY: Response to part III of Huck Finn exam - should the novel be taught or not, from the point of view of a public schools superintendent

HOMEWORK TONIGHT: Any additions/mods you wish to make to your response

FOCUS TODAY: Class discussion contribution


Class discussion on the novel's merits or lack thereof. Focus on making positive contributions to make the conversation move forward.



Mon, Jan 17 - MLK Holiday 


Fri, Jan 14


Exam on Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"

  • Hand-written notes from home AND the study matrix will be allowed as resources during the exam
  • Assignments from the unit will be returned during the exam; they are acceptable as resources
  • 20 of 23 short-answer factual recall questions are required
  • 5 of 10 medium-response thematic/stylistic questions are required
  • One take-home essay question is required



Wed-Thu, Jan 12-13



  • About one page on a theme or concept you heard in Tuesday's lecture
  • Finished reading the novel?

HOMEWORK: Complete the matrix

FOCUS TODAY: Creating a study matrix; categorizing and prioritizing; finding evidence; explaining evidence; discovering author's message


Students will construct a study matrix based on the issues discussed in the novel. The study matrix is to be comprised of the items below. (The items are presented in random order.) Students collectively decide how the items should be organized, then move on to complete the matrix as a collective exercise.





Society as foolish

"Civil" society

Society as hypocritical

Explanation of evidence

Society as confining

Society as comical


The river as a device

Dramatic irony

Organized religion

Situational irony

Society as cowardly

Twain's message/goal 


Mon-Tue, Jan 10-11


DUE TODAY: Be finished w/ the novel by Wed.


  • Select part of ch. 25-35 you think is humorous. Summarize that part that contains the humor, then explain the humor. In other words, answer the question, "Why is this funny?" (About 1 pg)


  • Select one theme or issue raised in Tuesday's lecture and expand on that concept w/ new evidence for about one page 

FOCUS TODAY: College-style lecture note-taking on issues in Huck Finn


Mr. Rice lectures based on student findings in chapters 1-23.


It is imperative you get "in the swing" of taking notes while teachers talk, as this is the basis for your remaining college-prep style classes and courses in the college setting.


Powerpoint Slide Show on the novel's central themes, devices, issues 

Huck Finn Group Presentation Notes - Periods 1 and 5 combined 


Thu-Fri, Jan 6-7


DUE TODAY: Group work concludes for Huck Finn chapters

HOMEWORK TODAY: Keep reading! Aim to conclude the book by next Tuesday/Wed

FOCUS TODAY: Groups present findings on plot, characters, humor, theme


Groups present findings on the assigned chapters:

  • Plot
  • Characters
  • Humor
  • Theme


THE VISION: Mr. Rice will become a student along w/ you during the presentations, taking notes on what the groups observed in their assigned chapters. Mr. Rice will then expand on the findings of the groups in a series of college-style lectures, during which you will add to your understanding of the novel. At the conclusion of these lectures, the class as a whole will gather to discuss major issues in the book as well as Twain's style. These seminar-style discussions will conclude the term and the novel study.



Wed, Jan 5


DUE TODAY: Close reading of the chapters assigned last class

HOMEWORK TONIGHT: Focus more closely on the chapters assigned - humor and theme

FOCUS TODAY: Group work on chapters assigned


Huck Finn – Group Chapter Focus 

Each group is assigned four chapters on which to focus. With your group, investigate carefully and critically the following elements, which should progress in terms of difficulty and level of effort:

  • Plot – what happens and in what order
  • Characters – who appears in the chapters, their character traits, and how they influence the plot
  • Humorous Techniques – explore how the humorous techniques are employed in the chapters, and to what extent they “work” to create humor. First identify if any exist, and if so, where. Then attempt to explain how the humorous technique functions where it is employed
  • Theme – investigate if any of the themes mentioned arise in the chapters. Is there any other pressing theme present? For each theme identified, explain both where the theme emerges in the plot/characters AND what sort of comment or statement the author seems to make on the theme 


Tue, Jan 4


DUE TODAY: Chapters 1-23 in Huck Finn

HOMEWORK: Focus on your assigned chapters, characters, themes - bring ideas

FOCUS TODAY: Plot, characters, and themes in Huck Finn


A discussion today on the first 23 chapters of Huck Finn, plus a QUIZ, which will have the questions below


Humor is accomplished through:

  • Mistaken identity
  • Satire
  • Dialect/language
  • Superstition
  • Dramatic irony


  • Truth and good vs. evil
  • The hypocrisy of “civilized” society vs. freedom of nature
  • Religion
  • “Book” learning vs. moral education through experience
  • Others?


You will be assigned four chapters from the first 24 of the book. Review your four chapters carefully for the humorous devices and themes mentioned today. Present to the class everything you can:

  • Plot (what happens and in what order)
  • Characters (who appears, their traits, their influence on plot development)
  • The use of humor devices
  • Presence of themes and their role in the plot in the chapters PLUS what “comment” or “statement” the book seems to make on the theme


  1. Which of Huck’s friends gets his ideas from reading adventure stories?
  2. What type of activities will the band of boys have that Huck is invited to join?
  3. What does Huck do w/ his money to make sure his father can’t get it?
  4. When Pap Finn appears in Huck’s room, what does he forbid Huck from doing any longer?
  5. It’s apparent Huck’s father is superstitious when Huck tells us he notices a boot print in the snow with a < > shaped out of nails in the heel.
  6. Huck’s father kidnaps the boy and holds him prisoner where?
  7. In order to ensure that no one follows or comes looking for him, what does Huck do while in the process of escaping his father’s imprisonment?
  8. Shortly after Huck’s escape we see further evidence of superstition when Huck pulls what out of the water and eats it?
  9. Why did Jim run away?
  10. Jim teaches Huck that it is the worst kind of foolishness to hold what kind of skin?
  11. Name a time Huck lies to adults, and his lie helps him.
  12. Who is the prime suspect in the murder of Huck Finn?
  13. What do Jim and Huck find on the wrecked steamship, and what do they do about it?
  14. How does Jim teach Huck a lesson after Huck tricks him the night of the terrible fog?
  15. What happened the night of the fog that is relevant regarding Jim’s freedom?
  16. Who are the Grangerfords and Shepherdsons?
  17. Why did Huck feel partly responsible for Sophia Grangerford’s disappearance and the death of Buck Grangerford?
  18. Who are the Duke and Dauphin?
  19. How do the Duke and Dauphin trick the townspeople out of their money?
  20. At the conclusion of chapter 23, Jim is concerned about his family and shares a story with Huck about his young daughter. How does this story, told by Jim, humanize Jim from a slave to a man? In other words, many readers would have seen Jim as just a simple slave, but Twain does something here that humanizes Jim. What is it?




  • Click for the study guide for "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" 

  • READ Twain and ANSWER THREE of the "interpreting meaning" questions PER BATCH for chapters one through twenty-three 


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