Notes Pre-Reading Questions
American Literature Name: _______________________________
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
What is the title? What do you think the title might mean?
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. It is not a collection of
of Huck’s adventures. It is just the beginning.
Who is the author?
Mark Twain –
Describe the picture on the cover. What meaning might be in the picture?
Notable points include: The sunset or sunrise, the white boy is the one working
What is the goal of the “Notice” on the back of the book?
Not to lose the story for the sake of the moral. Don’t dissect the book and ruin the story.
What does Hemingway’s quote on the back of the book mean?
In some way, every American book after this one has taken something from this book
Why have the small quote on the first page of the book?
To give some idea of who Huck is. A follower and uneducated
In brief biography what was unusual about the time of birth and death of Clemens?
What does “Mark Twain” mean?
What was Mark Twain’s nickname?
“The People’s Author”
How many children did Clemens have?
3 girls and 1 boy
How many children were alive when Clemens died?
What was the financial status of Clemens at the end of his life?
He was poor, then rich, then very poor then just when he was starting to turn it around, he died.
What does the phrase “denouncer of mass man” mean?
Twain is very cynical of humanity. He sees the depravity in everyone. He’s pessimistic.
What does the phrase “sentimentalist and cynic” mean?
Despite Twain’s criticisms of society, he also had real faith in youth and its possibilities
What are you expecting in this book?
The elements of a book beside the text which have meaning
Questions from the Book
What does it mean to be civilized?
What does unconditional love mean?
What is the difference between religion and Christianity?
How do “outsiders” function in society and with each other?
How are ignorance and hypocrisy similar and different?
How can racism be solved?
When and why should people break the rules?
Is the conscience in the heart or the mind?
Do people make society bad or does society make people bad?
What does it mean to be free?
**Assignment: Finish the questions and read through Chapter 4 for Monday
From what perspective (and whose) is the book written?
First person from Huck’s perspective. He treats Twain like a scribe
Which two ladies is Huck living with?
Miss Watson and the Widow Douglas
Why does Huck look down on people who don’t like smoking?
“That is just the way with some people. They get down on a thing when they don’t know nothing about it.” Pg 2
Where does Huck decide he’s not going to try to get to?
What does the incident between Huck and the spider tell us about him?
He is very superstitious and nervous about curses and hexes
What’s the common pattern of behavior between Huck and Tom?
Tom demands fantastic deeds and Huck agrees against his better reason
What can we learn about Jim based on his reaction to Tom’s prank?
He is also very superstitious and a real entrepreneur.
Where does Tom get his ideas?
From adventure novels
How does Tom Sawyer keep Tommy Barnes quiet about the gang’s secrets? What doesn’t Sawyer do?
He pays him. They don’t kill him and his family etc.
What does Jim (or the hairball) tell Huck to avoid?
Chapter 5-7 (pgs. 18-36)
How does Huck’s father treat Huck?
He beats him. He feels inferior to Huck. He tries to steal Huck’s money.
Who tries to reform Pap? What is the result of this attempt?
The new judge. Pap gets drunk again and breaks his arm.
Disbelief in reform
Why does Huck go to school now?
To spite his father
Where does Pap take Huck?
To a little hut in the woods
What habits does Huck take up again when living with his father?
Not bathing or changing his clothes. Swearing, smoking
What’s ironic about Pap’s tirade on voting rights?
He doesn’t vote himself, and he is far less educated than the black man.
Why might Mark Twain have put in the chilling description of Pap’s drunk hallucinations?
To expose the dangers of abusing alcohol and to show that Pap is near death
What does Huck find drifting down the river?
What does Huck do to cover his escape?
He fakes his own murder.
Where does Huck escape to?
Chapter 8-10 (pgs. 36-55)
How do the townspeople search for Huck’s body?
Fire the cannon over the water and float loaves of bread.
Both “work” in a way. Huck finds the bread and they fire the cannon in his face
Why does Huck believe in prayer now?
Because the bread actually “finds” him. It only works if you
are the right kind of person
How long is Huck alone on the island? What might this symbolize?
3 days and nights. Like the resurrection. Huck has died to his old life and been resurrected to a new life
Why is Jim on the island?
He ran away b/c he thought he was going to be sold
Why doesn’t Huck buy Jim’s theory on bees?
B/c Jim says they don’t sting idiots, and Huck has never been stung
Why does Jim say he is rich?
B/c he says he owns himself and he’s worth $800
What are the dimensions of the raft that Jim and Huck find?
12’ by 15’ or 16’
What does Jim refuse to talk about?
The dead man in the house
What trick does Huck pull on Jim? What’s the result?
He puts a dead snake by his bed. Jim gets bit by its mate.
How does Huck disguise himself when he goes into town?
As a girl
*Assignment: Read through Chapter 14 (pg. 80) for tomorrow
Chapter 11-14 (pgs. 55-80)
What two men are being blamed for killing Huck?
Pap and Jim
How much is the reward for Jim’s capture?
How did Judith Loftus find out Huck was a boy?
1. He doesn’t thread the needle like a girl
2. He doesn’t throw like a girl
3. He doesn’t catch in his lap like a girl
How does Huck try to throw off the men looking for Jim?
He builds a campfire to keep them watching it
What is a towhead?
A sandbar that has trees growing on it
What does Jim build on the raft?
-It can have a fire in it
-It can keep their cargo dry
When (and why) must they light the lantern on the raft?
To avoid a crash with a steamboat
How do Huck and Jim assuage their consciences about “borrowing” food?
They decide to not steal crabapples and p’simmons
What does Huck overhear the men planning on the steamboat?
They were going to leave
the man on the boat to drown
Why does Huck feel guilty about what happened on the steamboat?
If he were a murder he’d still want to be rescued
What is the watchman worried about?
Getting paid for his services even though it’s Huck’s “family”
Why does Huck wish the widow knew what he had done?
He feels proud for helping bad people.
-He thinks that’s what good people do; help bad people.
What type of people does Mark Twain satirize on the top of page 77?
Why does Jim think Solomon would have no problem chopping the child in two?
Because Solomon had a lot
-Solomon didn’t know how to properly value children – unlike Jim
How does Huck try to explain French to Jim? What is Jim’s counter-argument?
Huck compares it to different animals making different sounds.
Jim says that a French is a man so should talk like one.
Things to note:
Why does Huck rescue Jim?
Huck’s conscience compared with the robbers and the watchman.
Mark Twain’s opinions of royalty.
Why is the conversation about French so important?
Chapters 15-19 (pgs. 80-116)
How does Huck lose sight of the raft?
Breaks free from a towhead and floats away in the fog
What do the leaves on the raft represent according to Jim?
Trash like playing a mean trick on a friend
How does Huck feel having Jim so close to freedom?
Very nervous and guilty
What is Jim going to do with his money?
Buy his wife and two kids and take them to freedom
What does Huck plan to do at “first light?”
Turn Jim in
What does Huck tell the two man who are looking for runaway slaves?
Hints that his father has a very contagious and dangerous disease
Why can’t Huck and Jim find Cairo?
They passed it in the fog
What happens to the raft?
Gets run over by a steamboat
How old is Huck, roughly?
13-14 yrs. old
How does Huck describe
A story about a man who leaves his family
Why might Mark Twain include the lengthy description of the Grangerford home?
To show how aristocratic they are. The cream of the crop and still so stupid
What group might Twain be satirizing with the character of Emmeline Grangerford?
Romantic poets like Poe
According to Huck, what kind of family is the Grangerfords?
Gentlemanly and aristocratic
Why does Col. Grangerford criticize Buck?
B/c he shot from behind a bush rather than stepping into the open
What was the original cause of the feud between the Grangerfords and Shepherdson?
No one knows/remembers
What’s ironic about the subject of the sermon?
It was about brotherly love and both the Shepherdsons and Grangerfords go there
Who does Huck find in the swamp?
Where does Sophia run away to?
To marry Harney Shepherdson
What happens to Buck?
He gets shot and killed
How does Huck feel on a raft?
Free and easy
**Assignment: Read through Chap. 21 (page 145) for tomorrow
Chapters 19-21 (pgs. 116-145)
How wide is the river at times?
A mile to a mile and a half
How does their journey sound?
Very, peaceful, idyllic, like the Garden of Eden
What kind of men does Huck pick up?
What rank is the younger man?
What rank is the older man?
How old is the older man (supposedly)?
600-700 years old
Why does Huck tolerate the king and the duke?
B/c of his good manners and he thinks it’s easier to tolerate certain people than to provoke conflict with them.
Why doesn’t Huck tell them that Jim is a runaway slave?
He thinks they would probably turn Jim in.
What’s ironic about the success of Huck’s “Pike County” story?
The “pro” con men buy Huck’s story but he doesn’t buy their’s
How is the weather different now that the king and duke are aboard?
The balance has been upset
; the peace broken
What can we learn about Huck’s opinion of Jim?
He thinks he is a great guy and has a great sense of humor
Why does Jim send Huck ashore?
To keep an eye on the king and the duke and “to get coffee”
What’s the duke’s plan so they can travel by day?
To pretend that they are taking Jim, a runaway, back to his plantation
What is the town like that the men stop in?
Absolute squalor with low class people, rude, mean, the opposite of Grangerfords
Twain satirizes both ends of the social spectrum
What does Col. Sherburn do to Boggs?
Shoots him in broad daylight
What does the crowd plan to do to Col. Sherburn?
Lynch him, but they can’t go through with it
**Assignment: Read through Chap. 31 (pg. 218) for Monday after break
Chapters 22-31 (pgs. 145-218)
According to Sherburn (and Twain) the average man is what?
A coward and doesn’t like trouble and danger
What type of people does Twain satirize in pages 145-147?
Mobs – the foolish majority
What show do the king and duke put on?
Royal Nonsuch – the king running around naked
What does Huck believe even though it doesn’t seem “natural?”
That slaves can love their kids
as much as white people do
What is Elizabeth’s handicap? How does Jim feel about it?
Deaf and dumb – Terrible, but he loves her despite the physical deficiency
What, about clothes, has Huck never realized before?
How much they can change people
The right clothes can cover a multitude of sins
What makes Huck ashamed of the human race?
The way that the king and the duke take advantage of the orphans
The way that the orphans and others buy it all
What is Huck’s opinion of music?
That it makes everything seem whole and good again
Who first accuses the king of being a fraud?
What do “women always do for to force out compliments?”
Criticize their cooking or themselves
What is Twain satirizing on page 175?
Good manners trumping honesty
Why does the king want to stay and continue the fraud?
To sell off all the belongings and keep the money
Where does Huck hide the money?
In Peter’s coffin
Why have the character of the undertaker and the story of the dog and the rat?
What “mistake” does the king make that saddens the girls and angers the town?
He separates the slave family when he sells them
Why has Huck been putting up with the king and the duke this whole time?
To protect Jim – He thought they’d tell
Who shows up at the end of the auction?
The real Harvey and William
What is the plan to tell if the men are frauds?
To dig up the body and see what was tattooed on the chest
What are they going to do to the ones who are frauds?
(Remind you of anything?)
How much money do the king and duke make on their scam?
lose almost all their money
What happened to Jim?
The king sold him
What animal does Huck tell the duke he was looking for?
A sheep. Leaving the 99 and looking for the one lost
Assignment: Finish answering the questions by tomorrow
Chapter 32-35 (218-45)
Who does the Phelps family represent?
The average American family. Christian, well-educated.
How does Huck feel at the start of the chapter?
Terrible. Lonely. Lost.
Why the discrepancy in the “death descriptions” on page 221?
To show the racist disregard for the life of slaves as compared to the life of a white man.
What’s Huck’s new alias?
What is Uncle Silas’s occupation?
He is a farmer and a PREACHER
Who does Huck meet on the road while’s he off to “retrieve his luggage?”
How does Huck respond to Tom’s willingness to steal Jim?
He is shocked, dismayed, and quite angry at Huck for stooping so low.
What’s one of the kids’ names?
What does Tom do to Aunt Sally that throws her off?
Kisses her on the mouth
Who is pretending to be Sid Sawyer?
What happens to the king and the duke? Who tells on them?
They are caught trying to perform the Royal Nonsuch and tarred and feathered
Jim tells on them
How does Huck feel about what happened to the king and the duke?
Terrible. “Human beings can be cruel to one another.” Guilty.
What is Huck’s plan to steal Jim?
To steal the key and let him out, get on the raft and go down the river
What does the slave who brings Jim his food call him? Pg. 236
What is Tom’s main complaint with Huck’s plan and with the situation in general?
It is too easy and lacks style
What does Tom wish he could do to Jim’s leg?
Cut it off – Demonstrates Tom’s racist disregard for Jim’s well-being and his willingness to sacrifice Jim’s comfort and leg to satisfy Tom’s own need for adventure
Who is Twain satirizing in Tom?
A young boy filled with adventure. Kid of taking a satitiric stab at the person closest
in relation to the protagonist
What is Huck’s only concern?
To free Jim, even if it means dying.
Assignment: FINISH THE BOOK FOR MONDAY
Chapter 36- Chapter the Last (pgs. 245-294)
Why would Tom normally not “stand to see the rules broke”?
B/c he knows better, and it wouldn’t be write for him to do the wrong thing
b/c right is right and wrong is wrong
Why does Tom take the stairs?
B/c his hands are too beat up to climb the lightning rod. He sets aside his adventure
Scheme for the sake of his own benefit (rarely for Jim’s)
Why does Uncle Silas go in to see Jim?
To pray with him. He is concerned about his spiritual freedom but not his present freedom
Why does Jim go along with Tom’s plan?
B/c Tom is white and Jim figures that Tom would know better
What happens to Jim when Tom sneaks in the candlestick?
Jim bites down on it and really hurts his teeth. Tom doesn’t mind hurting Jim
For the sake of his twisted adventure
What do Aunt Sally and Uncle Silas think is the cause of their missing items?
Rats, cows, etc. They are too naïve and innocent to recognize Tom and “Sid”
How do Tom and Huck get the millstone to Jim’s shed?
Jim comes out to help them. So odd that Jim didn’t simply run then
What do the boys do with the sawdust from cutting the leg of the bed?
They eat it. They really hurt themselves then.
Where does Uncle Silas plan to advertise Jim? Why is Huck nervous about it?
St. Louis. Huck is worried that Miss Watson will find out.
What letters does Tom write the Phelps family?
Letters warning of the plan to steal Jim away to make the evasion more difficult
Who does Huck see in the “setting-room”?
15 armed farmers who believed Tom’s letters
What happens to Tom during the “evasion?”
He gets shot in the leg
What does Huck say Jim is on the inside?
White – A sad, twisted, yet incredibly kind compliment
What do the men to do Jim?
tie him up
, curse him and hit him
What does Jim not do throughout the whole ordeal?
Mentioned twice. Significance?
He never says anything like Jesus – a sheep before a shearer is dumb so he opened not his mouth
Why does Tom demand that Jim be set free?
B/c Jim has been free anyway. Miss Watson freed him in her will about 2 months ago
What does Huck finally understand?
Why Tom was willing to help “steal” Jim. Tom knew he was free already
What does the Phelps family do for Jim when they find out he’s a free man?
They treat him almost like an equal, feeding him, dressing him, etc.
What has happened to Pap?
He was the dead man in the house that floated by earlier in the book
At the end of the book, what are Huck’s plans?
To run away to the “Injun territory” The only way for Huck to remain “free” is to keep running from society’s corrupting influences
**Assignment: Read the Afterward and the Preface for Tuesday
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