The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Teaching Guide
- 12 pages
- Subject: Allusion, Character Analysis, Historical Context, Plot, Setting, Themes, Vocabulary, Lesson Plans and Educational Resources
- Grade Levels: 8, 9, 10, 11
Additional The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Resources
So you’re going to teach The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, an American classic that has been a mainstay in English classes for generations. Whether it’s the first time or the hundredth time you’ve taken students through the novel, these teaching tips will help ensure that the experience is rewarding for everyone, including you. Teaching Huckleberry Finn, especially from a new perspective, will give students insight into Twain as a satirist and social critic, as well as a novelist, and help them develop an understanding of romanticism and regionalism (local color writing) in 19th-century American fiction. Let’s look at things to keep in mind before you take your students into Twain’s depiction of life along the Mississippi River in the mid-1800s and examine how it impacts young Huck Finn, a runaway orphan, and a fugitive slave named Jim.
About This Document
Owl Eyes teaching guides have been designed to help first-time and veteran teachers open up classic works of literature for their students. Our guides provide rich background information, identify key themes and topics, and offer creative and practical approaches to teaching the text.
The main components of each guide include the following:
- A concise history of the text
- An explanation of significant allusions
- Teaching approaches and discussion questions
- Tricky issues to address while teaching
- Alternative teaching approaches
- A list of complementary texts
These teaching guides offer valuable context and promote meaningful discussions about novels, plays, poems, and stories that have captivated English Language Arts students for generations. Each guide is comprehensive and concise, thought-provoking and practical.
Approaches and Discussion Questions Excerpt
Huck as Follower of Internal Morals: The internal conflict Huck experiences about freeing Jim at the Phelps plantation is pivotal to his moral development. Huck’s deciding to go literally to hell rather than leave Jim a slave is the dramatic climax of the novel and Twain’s harshest criticism of slavery. Huck’s decision indicates that being damned for eternity is preferable to allowing someone to be enslaved. By the end of the novel, Huck has encountered society at its most corrupt, but he has not been corrupted. He has struggled with questions of morality versus immorality and followed the goodness in his own heart.
- For discussion: Make a list of Huck’s predominant character traits as they are revealed through his words and actions. How is his character developed through the conflicts he faces, and how does he decide how to resolve these conflicts?
Huck and Jim as Respected Equals: Highlight Huck and Jim’s relationship. It is through his evolving relationship with Jim that Huck matures as he recognizes Jim’s fine qualities of character despite his enslavement and lesser status. Throughout the novel, Jim acts with courage, integrity, compassion, unselfishness, gratitude, and loyalty. He forgives Huck’s occasional lack of kindness and can’t forgive himself for once having hurt his little daughter. He is determined to bring his wife and children out of slavery and be reunited with them.
- For discussion: Where are readers able to see evidence of Jim’s admirable qualities? How does Huck react to these situations, and how do they change his perception of Jim and slavery in general?
Additional Discussion Questions:
- The novel is rich in irony, both situational and dramatic. Characters valued the least in society (Huck and Jim) prove to be the most admirable and heroic. What are other examples of irony in the text? How does Huck’s understanding of situations and events in the narrative differ considerably from readers’?
- The novel is often infused with humor through Huck’s running commentary on the foibles of human nature as he observes them in society. What are some examples of these? Do they strike readers are particularly true, even today?
- What is Tom Sawyer’s purpose in the plot?