Major Works Data Sheet: Do not cut/paste from a website, which is a form of plagiarism.
Title:The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Biographical information about the author:
Author: Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
The son of a judge, Samuel Clemens was born in Florida, Missouri in 1835, and moved to Hannibal, Mo. at the age of 4. Hannibal was the inspiration for the settings of The Adventure of Tom Sawyer (1876), and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1886). Clemens attended private school, but when his father died of pneumonia in 1847, he became an apprentice to a printer. He then moved to St. Louis to be a printer, but instead became a licensed river pilot in 1858. This is where his pseudonym Mark Twain comes from, as river boat captains mark their rope lines to insure that the river is not too shallow, thus “marking the twain”. Twain became a newspaper editor in 1861 because of the Civil War, and began writing stories in 1865. He died in 1910, and by that time, was one of the most famous American writers, with 28 books and numerous short stories to his credit.
Date of Publication: January 1886
Genre: Adventure; Historical; Satirical Fiction
Historical information about the period of publication or setting of the novel:
This novel is set in the American South in the pre-Civil War era, in either the 1830s or 1840s. The majority of the events occur while protagonist Huck and his cohort, the slave Jim, are traveling by water along the Mississippi River. The Mississippi is not only a major artery of travel and commerce in America; it also served as a dividing line between East and West during this period of western settlement and movement. The Missouri Compromise in 1820 made the state of Missouri, where Huck and Jim are from, the northernmost slave state, and therefore part of the boundary between liberal North and conservative South in the US. The beginnings of industrialization in America can be seen in the novel, with the presence of steamboats on the Mississippi. The people in the area, meanwhile, are rural folk, with little education and racist opinions, especially on slavery, on which many relied economically.
Characteristics of the genre:
Huck Finn has no true set genre. One may consider it a quest with heroic intentions, with Huck bringing the slave Jim out of the South and into the free North, but this “plan” falls through when Huck and Jim miss the turn onto the Ohio River at Cairo. This novel is certainly an adventure novel, however, and it may also be considered historical, with the pre-Civil War South as the template for the plot. The book also contains clear satire, as Twain picks apart and comments on his homeland, and how the people there acted, thought and felt about various motifs, especially slaves.
Plot Summary: Do not cut/paste from a website, which is a form of plagiarism.
The book starts with Huck under the care of Miss Watson, a widow in the town of St. Petersburg, Missouri. One day, Huck’s abusive alcoholic father reappears and kidnaps Huck. Huck manages to fake his own death and make it to Jackson Island in the Mississippi, where he meets Jim, a former slave of Miss Watson who has also run away. Together, they escape down the Mississippi on a handcrafted raft. Along their journey, Huck dresses as a girl, Huck and Jim steal money from robbers, and Huck fends off slave-catchers. However, Huck and Jim soon become separated. Huck ends up in the house of the Grangerfords, an aristocratic family, and Jim later shows up whilst the family fights another rich family from the area. They continue down the river, only to stop again to save two con artists, who call themselves the Duke and the King and trick several towns in Arkansas into paying them large amounts of money. They nearly meet their demise when they pretend to be two English brothers of a deceased rich man. The Duke and the King finally sell Jim to a farmer, and Huck ventures to find the buyer. He is taken in by a family who are coincidentally Tom Sawyer’s aunt and uncle, and Huck pretends to be Tom so that he can stay with them and keep an eye on Jim. Tom soon arrives for a visit, and Tom and Huck create an overly elaborate plan to free Jim from captivity. However, after the plan fails on multiple levels, Tom finally reveals that Miss Watson has actually died and freed Jim in her will. Huck ends the story by saying he will travel west, to seek even more adventure and avoid becoming civilized.
Major Works Data SheetName: Ivan Miketic, Andrew Mitchel, Joanna Wong
Memorable Quotes at least 3 – more is better
“I used to be scared of him all the time, he tanned me so much. I reckoned I was scared now, too; but in a minute I see I was mistaken -- that is, after the first jolt, as you may say, when my breath sort of hitched, he being so unexpected; but right away after I see I warn't scared of him worth bothring about … There warn't no color in his face, where his face showed; it was white; not like another man's white, but a white to make a body sick, a white to make a body's flesh crawl -- a tree-toad white, a fish-belly white.” (Chapter 5)
“Then [Jim] got up slow and walked to the wigwam, and went in there without saying anything but that. But that was enough. It made me feel so mean I could almost kissed HIS foot to get him to take it back. It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a nigger; but I done it, and I warn't ever sorry for it afterwards, neither … I wouldn't done that one if I'd a knowed it would make him feel that way” (Chapter 15).
“I took [the letter] up, and held it in my hand. I was a-trembling, because I'd got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself: "All right, then, I'll GO to hell" -- and tore it up” (Chapter 30).
“But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can’t stand it. I been there before” (Chapter the Last).
This quotation is important because it sums up Huck’s relationship with his abusive father, a character who causes nothing but trouble whenever he is mentioned in the book. Huck obviously fears Pap, since he goes out of his way to sell his treasure and consult others on his father’s reappearance, and the simple description of Pap in his entirety allows readers to also be disgusted with him just as Huck is.
The descriptive detail on Pap’s skin in particular also draws some significance for later on in the book, as Huck considers giving Jim his freedom and treating him as his equal. Throughout Huck’s life, he had been taught that a black man shouldn’t be treated with as much respect as a white man should. But why does Pap, a horrible man with disturbingly white skin, deserve to be treated with more respect than simple-minded Jim? With Pap described so snakelike and malicious, it begs the question on real equality, especially for those prove to be better role models for Huck.
This quotation demonstrates an important point in Huck’s then budding friendship with Jim as he finally begins to understand that Jim is someone who can get hurt just as much as the next person. Before this, Huck would play many tricks on Jim to Jim’s expense because he didn’t grasp how much Jim cared for him and how badly Jim was hurt and in danger with every thing done to him. But from this moment, Huck vows not to put Jim through anything like this again, thus beginning Huck and Jim’s friendship for real.
This quotation could also signify the start of Huck’s evolved thinking of equality, since he originally justified all of his tricks on Jim because Jim was smart enough for a black person. However now that Huck is more open to Jim’s feelings, he is also slowly becoming more open to the idea of freedom for Jim.
This quotation holds great significance because it represents a change that has occurred within Huck; he no longer sees Jim as just a slave but an actual human being, a friend who deeply cared for Huck during their entire trip and who deserves to be saved from his captivity. However, this quotation also signifies the conflict that exists in Huck, since he is stuck between trusting his newfound ideals and following the beliefs that were established within his mind since he was younger. When Huck decides to “go to hell”, he is letting go of these childhood proverbs and his own inherited racism, and choosing to follow his heart and advanced principles of a later society.
This is the last sentence of the entire book, and it mirrors the very first paragraph of the novel, when the Widow Douglas was trying to take Huck into her home and “sivilize” him. This quotation is important because it again shows Huck’s refusal to be changed by society, a thing that hasn’t changed since the beginning of the story. Huck’s journey with Jim has truly given him a new perspective on life, and an opportunity to go west to the Territory and continue living his life as he wants is something that Huck would much rather have. All in all, Huck would much rather experience change on his own terms than through any other means.
Even though Huck is only 13 years old, he has been through a lot. His drunken father and his values make him confused with the set of values that are trying to be instilled to him by Miss Watson and also the values he develops on his own while on his adventure.
Jim is Miss Watson’s slave who escapes from her and tries to get north. He is loyal to Huck and listens to him; for example, he even goes through with Tom’s plan of digging underneath the locked hut and writing letters in blood.
Tom comes to visit his aunt and uncle in the end of the novel and while there, he tries to help Huck free Jim. Although his plan is ridiculous and he turns Jim’s life into a game, we later find out that Jim was free the whole time
Pap is a bad influence on Huck and really confuses Huck’s moral values early on in the novel. He is the reason that Huck thinks stealing and lying is okay. He beats Huck and doesn’t attempt to be a father to him at all. But since he is poor, Pap is the reason that Huck learned all his survival skills.
She attempts to teach Huck manners and she agrees to take care of Huck in her home and give him food and clothes and housing because his father is unfit to raise him. She wants Huck to become more civilized, she also frees Jim which is unusual in the South.
Major Works Data Sheet Name: Ivan Miketic, Andrew Mitchel, Joanna Wong
Role in the story
The Duke and the King
The Wilks Family
Sally and Silas Phelps
Holder of Huck’s money; guardian figure
Family that takes in Huck after the raft breaks and he loses Jim
Family who is taken advantage of by the Duke and King
Tom’s aunt and uncle
Huck finds out Pap is in town, so Huck lets the Judge purchase the money, this way Pap can never get a hold of the money because it was legally sold. The judge really wanted to help Huck.
Huck and Jim rescue these two con men and give them food and a place on their raft- The duke and king generally mistreat Jim, and this increases the camaraderie between Huck and Jim. The con men also show Huck what not to do (scamming, stealing, abusing slaves, bossing people around).
This family has a long lasting rivalry with the Shepherdsons. This is a representation of Hatsfields and McCoys in the Civil War. Twain ironizes the feud and shows how silly it is to fight over trivial things.
Peter Wilks passes away and leaves a large estate to his children. The Duke and King impersonate Peter’s brothers and try to make off with the money. They fail however; in fact they barely escape the anger of the family. This family is important because it shows Huck that scamming people is wrong. The failed capturing of the inheritance also ensures Jim’s fate; he is later sold by the Duke and the King to get food.
Jim is sold to thePhelps family, Huck impersonates Tom in order to try to free Jim, this family is very organized which makes Huck uncomfortable since he prefers the unruliness of the wilderness.
Trustworthy, intelligent, moral
Mischievous, uneducated, slippery
Rich, hospitable, friendly, stubborn, brutal
Foolish, naïve, likeable, polite
Orderly, polite, pleasant
Major Works Data Sheet Name: Ivan Miketic, Andrew Mitchel, Joanna Wong
Significance of the opening scene
The novel’s main setting is along and on the mighty Mississippi River in the American South. The book starts in St. Petersburg, Missouri, a fake town that Twain made up to mimic his hometown of Hannibal, Missouri. The setting does change, and the action in the book occurs in Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Tennessee and Mississippi. The area in which the novel takes place is still sparsely populated, with only a few small towns and farms along the river.
Huck starts off by telling the reader about a few things. He tells us readers that it “ain’t no matter” if we’ve heard of Tom Sawyer, his friend, before this book. This makes it clear straightaway that though Huck Finn is a continuation of the same setting and timeframe as Tom Sawyer, the two books are complementary, but Huck Finn is not a true sequel to Tom Sawyer. Also, Huck makes it clear that he hates being “sivilized” by the Widow Douglas to the town, and would rather live on his own, and free to do what he wanted.
Symbols or Motifs (at least three)
Significance of the ending / closing scene
The River: It has a predominant effect on the entire book and its structure. It is the vehicle of both physical and moral development/change for Huck and Jim, as they travel south on it. Huck and Jim experiences the benefits of freedom on the river, where Huck is not treated like a child, and where Jim is treated like a human being, not a piece of property.
The Grangerford House: This location and Huck’s experiences there portrays the southern aristocratic experience in a satirical way. Not only is there massive unnecessary pomp and circumstance, there is also a feud with another family, the Shepherdsons, with no known cause and needless death involved.
Steamboat: The rise of industrialization and the mechanization of most facets of life are shown in the presence of the steamboats on the river. It also shows that people are willing to spend money for comfort and simplicity, since other watercrafts were much cheaper, but people are willing to spend the big bucks to travel in style.
After given the option of Huck proclaims he will go west towards what is now Oklahoma, likely in search of more new adventures. This is opposed to the idea of him remaining in the South or under the guidance and guardianship of adults, whom he doesn’t trust or like for the most part.
Possible Themes – Topics of Discussion (elaborate) minimum of 3
Bildungsroman: This book is commonly considered one in which the main character, who starts as a youth, grows up and is morphed by the experiences he has. Huck learns about society and human nature on his journey down the Mississippi, but the key to his character development is his relationship with Jim. He comes to treat him as not a piece of property, but as a man with opinions and feelings. He even says he will “go to hell” for Jim’s sake.
The Morality of Slavery: This novel also helps point out the immorality of slavery and the apparent carelessness over the condition of blacks by even the moral and “good” whites. The Huck-Jim relationship represents a positive and fruitful interaction between characters of different races. Meanwhile, most of the other characters have no regard for the humanity of the slave, as a nice and “sivilized” Miss Watson owns some herself.
Religion versus Superstition: In the book, there are many mentions of Christianity. Huck refuses the attempts by Miss Watson at getting him to believe in God or the Christian religion; he says that what Moses teaches because he “don’t take no stock in dead people”. Meanwhile, Huck is very intrigued by superstition, especially those of Jim. He says, “Jim knowed all kinds of signs” and goes to Jim for advice on his situation with his father at the beginning of the book. As a 13-year-old, superstition and visible action, like the hairball of Jim, is much more appealing to Huck than religion that he cannot comprehend or see.
Education: Huck is a very good example of someone who is self-educated. He refuses all efforts at civilizing him, and instead learns on the river about the ways of the world. Jim helps his development by showing him how to easily survive in an unforgiving world. He learns how to get by with lies, deceit, and crafty maneuvers, which may not sound moral, but it works in Huck’s favor. This highlights the more general argument in literature that sometimes, education may not be truly necessary, while at other times it is absolutely vital.