Notes Pre-Reading Questions

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American Literature Name: _______________________________

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Hour: _______

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn




  1. What is the title? What do you think the title might mean?

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. It is not a collection of all of Huck’s adventures. It is just the beginning.

  1. Who is the author?

Mark Twain – not Samuel Clemens

  1. 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

  1. 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.

  1. 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

  1. Why have the small quote on the first page of the book?

To give some idea of who Huck is. A follower and uneducated

  1. In brief biography what was unusual about the time of birth and death of Clemens?

Haley’s Comet

  1. What does “Mark Twain” mean?

“Safe water”

  1. What was Mark Twain’s nickname?

“The People’s Author”

  1. How many children did Clemens have?


3 girls and 1 boy

  1. How many children were alive when Clemens died?

1 girl

  1. 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.

  1. What does the phrase “denouncer of mass man” mean?

Twain is very cynical of humanity. He sees the depravity in everyone. He’s pessimistic.

  1. What does the phrase “sentimentalist and cynic” mean?

Despite Twain’s criticisms of society, he also had real faith in youth and its possibilities

  1. What are you expecting in this book?

Para-text – The elements of a book beside the text which have meaning

Important 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

Chapter 1-4


  1. From what perspective (and whose) is the book written?

First person from Huck’s perspective. He treats Twain like a scribe

  1. Which two ladies is Huck living with?

Miss Watson and the Widow Douglas

  1. 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

  1. Where does Huck decide he’s not going to try to get to?


  1. What does the incident between Huck and the spider tell us about him?

He is very superstitious and nervous about curses and hexes

  1. What’s the common pattern of behavior between Huck and Tom? Pgs. 5-6

Tom demands fantastic deeds and Huck agrees against his better reason

  1. What can we learn about Jim based on his reaction to Tom’s prank?

He is also very superstitious and a real entrepreneur.

  1. Where does Tom get his ideas?

From adventure novels

  1. 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.

  1. What does Jim (or the hairball) tell Huck to avoid?

The water

Chapter 5-7 (pgs. 18-36)


  1. How does Huck’s father treat Huck?

He beats him. He feels inferior to Huck. He tries to steal Huck’s money.

  1. 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

  1. Why does Huck go to school now?

To spite his father

  1. Where does Pap take Huck?

To a little hut in the woods

  1. What habits does Huck take up again when living with his father?

Not bathing or changing his clothes. Swearing, smoking

  1. 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.

  1. 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

  1. What does Huck find drifting down the river?

A canoe

  1. What does Huck do to cover his escape?

He fakes his own murder.

  1. Where does Huck escape to?

Jackson Island

Chapter 8-10 (pgs. 36-55)


  1. 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

  1. Why does Huck believe in prayer now? Pg. 37

Because the bread actually “finds” him. It only works if you are the right kind of person

  1. How long is Huck alone on the island? What might this symbolize? Pg. 39

3 days and nights. Like the resurrection. Huck has died to his old life and been resurrected to a new life

  1. Why is Jim on the island?

He ran away b/c he thought he was going to be sold

  1. Why doesn’t Huck buy Jim’s theory on bees? Pg. 45

B/c Jim says they don’t sting idiots, and Huck has never been stung

  1. Why does Jim say he is rich? Pg. 47

B/c he says he owns himself and he’s worth $800

  1. What are the dimensions of the raft that Jim and Huck find? Pg. 49-50

12’ by 15’ or 16’

  1. What does Jim refuse to talk about? Pg. 52

The dead man in the house

  1. 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.

  1. 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)


  1. What two men are being blamed for killing Huck?

Pap and Jim

  1. How much is the reward for Jim’s capture?


  1. How did Judith Loftus find out Huck was a boy? 3 reasons

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

  1. How does Huck try to throw off the men looking for Jim? Pg. 63

He builds a campfire to keep them watching it

  1. What is a towhead?

A sandbar that has trees growing on it

  1. What does Jim build on the raft? Pg. 64

A wigwam

-It can have a fire in it

-It can keep their cargo dry

  1. When (and why) must they light the lantern on the raft?

To avoid a crash with a steamboat

  1. How do Huck and Jim assuage their consciences about “borrowing” food?

They decide to not steal crabapples and p’simmons

  1. What does Huck overhear the men planning on the steamboat? Pgs. 68-69

They were going to leave the man on the boat to drown

  1. Why does Huck feel guilty about what happened on the steamboat?

If he were a murder he’d still want to be rescued
Continued 

  1. What is the watchman worried about? Pg. 74

Getting paid for his services even though it’s Huck’s “family”

  1. Why does Huck wish the widow knew what he had done? Pg. 75

He feels proud for helping bad people.

-He thinks that’s what good people do; help bad people.

  1. What type of people does Mark Twain satirize on the top of page 77?

Royalty (Kings)

  1. 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

  1. How does Huck try to explain French to Jim? What is Jim’s counter-argument? Pgs. 79-80

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)


  1. How does Huck lose sight of the raft?

Breaks free from a towhead and floats away in the fog

  1. What do the leaves on the raft represent according to Jim?

Trash like playing a mean trick on a friend

  1. How does Huck feel having Jim so close to freedom?

Very nervous and guilty

  1. What is Jim going to do with his money?

Buy his wife and two kids and take them to freedom

  1. What does Huck plan to do at “first light?” Pg. 89

Turn Jim in

  1. What does Huck tell the two man who are looking for runaway slaves?

Hints that his father has a very contagious and dangerous disease

  1. Why can’t Huck and Jim find Cairo?

They passed it in the fog

  1. What happens to the raft? Pg. 94

Gets run over by a steamboat

  1. How old is Huck, roughly? Pg. 97

13-14 yrs. old

  1. How does Huck describe Pilgrim’s Progress?

A story about a man who leaves his family

  1. 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

  1. What group might Twain be satirizing with the character of Emmeline Grangerford?

Romantic poets like Poe

  1. According to Huck, what kind of family is the Grangerfords? Pg. 104

Gentlemanly and aristocratic

  1. Why does Col. Grangerford criticize Buck? Pg. 107

B/c he shot from behind a bush rather than stepping into the open

  1. What was the original cause of the feud between the Grangerfords and Shepherdson?

No one knows/remembers

  1. What’s ironic about the subject of the sermon? Pg. 109

It was about brotherly love and both the Shepherdsons and Grangerfords go there

  1. Who does Huck find in the swamp?


  1. Where does Sophia run away to?

To marry Harney Shepherdson

  1. What happens to Buck?

He gets shot and killed

  1. How does Huck feel on a raft? Pg. 116

Free and easy

**Assignment: Read through Chap. 21 (page 145) for tomorrow

Chapters 19-21 (pgs. 116-145)


  1. How wide is the river at times?

A mile to a mile and a half

  1. How does their journey sound? Pg. 117-118

Very, peaceful, idyllic, like the Garden of Eden

  1. What kind of men does Huck pick up?


  1. What rank is the younger man?


  1. What rank is the older man?


  1. How old is the older man (supposedly)? Pg. 124

600-700 years old

  1. Why does Huck tolerate the king and the duke? Pg. 125

B/c of his good manners and he thinks it’s easier to tolerate certain people than to provoke conflict with them.

  1. Why doesn’t Huck tell them that Jim is a runaway slave?

He thinks they would probably turn Jim in.

  1. 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

  1. How is the weather different now that the king and duke are aboard? Pg. 128

Stormy. The balance has been upset; the peace broken

  1. What can we learn about Huck’s opinion of Jim? Pg. 128

He thinks he is a great guy and has a great sense of humor

  1. Why does Jim send Huck ashore? Pg. 130

To keep an eye on the king and the duke and “to get coffee”

  1. 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

  1. What is the town like that the men stop in? Pg. 139-140

Absolute squalor with low class people, rude, mean, the opposite of Grangerfords

Twain satirizes both ends of the social spectrum

  1. What does Col. Sherburn do to Boggs?

Shoots him in broad daylight

  1. 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)


  1. According to Sherburn (and Twain) the average man is what? Pg. 146

A coward and doesn’t like trouble and danger

  1. What type of people does Twain satirize in pages 145-147?

Mobs – the foolish majority

  1. What show do the king and duke put on? Pg. 151-153

Royal Nonsuch – the king running around naked

  1. What does Huck believe even though it doesn’t seem “natural?” Pg. 155

That slaves can love their kids as much as white people do

  1. What is Elizabeth’s handicap? How does Jim feel about it?

Deaf and dumb – Terrible, but he loves her despite the physical deficiency

  1. What, about clothes, has Huck never realized before? Pg. 158

How much they can change people

The right clothes can cover a multitude of sins

  1. What makes Huck ashamed of the human race? Pg. 163

The way that the king and the duke take advantage of the orphans

The way that the orphans and others buy it all

  1. What is Huck’s opinion of music? Pg. 165

That it makes everything seem whole and good again

  1. Who first accuses the king of being a fraud? Pg. 169

The doctor.

  1. What do “women always do for to force out compliments?” Pg. 171

Criticize their cooking or themselves

  1. What is Twain satirizing on page 175?

Good manners trumping honesty

  1. Why does the king want to stay and continue the fraud? Pg. 177

To sell off all the belongings and keep the money

  1. Where does Huck hide the money? Pg. 179

In Peter’s coffin

  1. Why have the character of the undertaker and the story of the dog and the rat? Pg. 181-182

  1. What “mistake” does the king make that saddens the girls and angers the town? Pg. 183

He separates the slave family when he sells them

  1. Why has Huck been putting up with the king and the duke this whole time? Pg. 188

To protect Jim – He thought they’d tell

  1. Who shows up at the end of the auction? Pg. 195

The real Harvey and William

  1. What is the plan to tell if the men are frauds? Pg. 201-202

To dig up the body and see what was tattooed on the chest

  1. What are they going to do to the ones who are frauds? Pg. 202 (Remind you of anything?)

Lynch them

  1. How much money do the king and duke make on their scam? Pg. 208

They lose almost all their money

  1. What happened to Jim? Pg. 211

The king sold him

  1. What animal does Huck tell the duke he was looking for? Pg. 215 (Deeper meaning?)

A sheep. Leaving the 99 and looking for the one lost

Assignment: Finish answering the questions by tomorrow

Chapter 32-35 (218-45)


  1. Who does the Phelps family represent?

The average American family. Christian, well-educated.

  1. How does Huck feel at the start of the chapter?

Terrible. Lonely. Lost.

  1. 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.

  1. What’s Huck’s new alias?

Tom Sawyer

  1. What is Uncle Silas’s occupation?

He is a farmer and a PREACHER

  1. Who does Huck meet on the road while’s he off to “retrieve his luggage?”

Tom Sawyer

  1. How does Huck respond to Tom’s willingness to steal Jim?

He is shocked, dismayed, and quite angry at Huck for stooping so low.

  1. What’s one of the kids’ names?


  1. What does Tom do to Aunt Sally that throws her off?

Kisses her on the mouth

  1. Who is pretending to be Sid Sawyer?

Tom Sawyer

  1. 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

  1. How does Huck feel about what happened to the king and the duke?

Terrible. “Human beings can be cruel to one another.” Guilty.

  1. 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

  1. What does the slave who brings Jim his food call him? Pg. 236

A dog

  1. What is Tom’s main complaint with Huck’s plan and with the situation in general?

It is too easy and lacks style

  1. 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

  1. 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

  1. What is Huck’s only concern?

To free Jim, even if it means dying.


Chapter 36- Chapter the Last (pgs. 245-294)


  1. Why would Tom normally not “stand to see the rules broke”? Pg. 246

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

  1. Why does Tom take the stairs? Pg. 247

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)

  1. Why does Uncle Silas go in to see Jim? Pg. 248

To pray with him. He is concerned about his spiritual freedom but not his present freedom

  1. Why does Jim go along with Tom’s plan? Pg. 249

B/c Tom is white and Jim figures that Tom would know better

  1. What happens to Jim when Tom sneaks in the candlestick? Pg. 249

Jim bites down on it and really hurts his teeth. Tom doesn’t mind hurting Jim

For the sake of his twisted adventure

  1. 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”

  1. How do Tom and Huck get the millstone to Jim’s shed? Pg. 261-262

Jim comes out to help them. So odd that Jim didn’t simply run then

  1. What do the boys do with the sawdust from cutting the leg of the bed? Pg. 267

They eat it. They really hurt themselves then.

  1. Where does Uncle Silas plan to advertise Jim? Why is Huck nervous about it? Pg. 267

St. Louis. Huck is worried that Miss Watson will find out.

  1. What letters does Tom write the Phelps family? Pg. 269-270

Letters warning of the plan to steal Jim away to make the evasion more difficult

  1. Who does Huck see in the “setting-room”? Pg. 272

15 armed farmers who believed Tom’s letters

  1. What happens to Tom during the “evasion?” Pg. 275

He gets shot in the leg

  1. What does Huck say Jim is on the inside? Pg. 276

White – A sad, twisted, yet incredibly kind compliment

  1. What do the men to do Jim? Pg. 285

They tie him up, curse him and hit him

  1. 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

  1. Why does Tom demand that Jim be set free? Pg. 289-290

B/c Jim has been free anyway. Miss Watson freed him in her will about 2 months ago

  1. What does Huck finally understand? Pg. 291

Why Tom was willing to help “steal” Jim. Tom knew he was free already

  1. What does the Phelps family do for Jim when they find out he’s a free man? Pg. 292

They treat him almost like an equal, feeding him, dressing him, etc.

  1. What has happened to Pap? Pg. 293

He was the dead man in the house that floated by earlier in the book

  1. 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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