The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
by Mark Twain
Chapters One to Eight, pp. 13-63
- a slang expression: somebody of no
- a weed which resists domestication; it can't be
transplanted successfully to the city
Twain's Narrative Point of View:
- first person narrator
paragraph (13): Huck comments on Twain's reliability; what
should we make of Huck's own reliability as a narrator?
Essay Section One:
What is Huck's Situation at the beginning of the
|- What has 'being sivilised'
by the Widow Douglas and Miss Watson been like?
- Scratch beneath the surface of Huck's gruff exterior and what do we find?
- table manners, clothes, no smoking, spelling
lessons, school, endless lectures on wicked ways and the bad
food (14) What's wrong with it?
- The Widow Douglas on Moses
and the Bullrushers (14) What is that bible story
- Miss Watson on The Good
Place and the Bad Place (15) Huck's response?
- What is Huck's attitude toward prayer
(23) and religion in general? Huck
can't see the sense in prayer because you aren't supposed to pray for
something practical like the return of a lost or stolen possession.
Instead, "the thing a body could get by praying for it was 'spiritual
gifts.' (23)", and Huck sees no point in that.
- What point is Twain
making about learning the difference between right and wrong? What is
the only way that Huck is going to learn?
- After being 'pecked at' by Miss Watson about Moses, about 'going to
the Bad Place', about spelling, about how to sit properly, and what
not, Huck sits by himself at the window and, looking out at the night,
thinks about how lonesome he is.
For whom is Huck lonesome? (16)
- In the same passage,
Huck talks about how burning a spider is bad luck, so he turns around
three times and then ties up a lock of his hair. Who has taught him
these remedies for bad luck?
- What ghosts haunt Huck?
- Huck nearly cries when the kids won't let him into Tom's gang because
he has no family worth killing if he betrays their secrets. (20) Who
was in his family?
does he think of himself? When the old widow Douglas describes heaven,
Huck figures that they wouldn't want him there, "seeing I was so
ignorant, and so kind of low-down and ornery." (23)
- Literally, he is haunted by a dead body
found in river (24), supposedly the body of his father.
- What's it like being part of 'Tom Sawyer's Gang'?
- What kind of relationship does Huck have with Jim at the beginning of the action?
- Sneaking out at night and sailing a skiff to the scar in the land
where their cave hideout is located: signing blood oaths, planning
robberies and killings, 'ransoming' captives (even if no one knows what
means), playing hookey, hunting for buried treasure, sneakin'
smokes, gettin' into scuffles, raiding kindergarten classes: all in
1840's America (pre Mexican War, pre civil war)
- American readers during the 1870's were yearning for the innocence of childhood
after the carnage of civil war (Louisa Mae Alcott, Uncle Remus, Winslow
- Where does Tom get his ideas for adventures,
like the attack against the
Spanish Merchants and rich A-rabs? (24-25)
- Why does Huck find being in Tom's gang finally
unsatisfying? How is it like 'Sunday School'? (genie's
- How will Huck's moral and
imaginative self (23) develop differently?
- What does Huck make of the hat story
(19)? Look deeper: How does slave religion make use of the supernatural? Tom's
attitude? Huck's? Twain's point? (Slave Religion) ; (For further information on African American religious beliefs, see Yronwode, "Hoodoo, Conjure, and Rootwork: African American Folk Magic"; see Index of 19th Century Southern Texts
- An archive of texts by Charles W. Chestnutt, Joel Chandler Harris,
and Mary Alice Owen that mention African-American hoodoo beliefs that
derive from African religious sources. Also included at the site are
extracts from Mark Twain's works that mention European-American
witchcraft beliefs; see also "Southern Spirits: Ghostly Voices from Dixie Land")
- What does Huck make of the hair ball story (29) How does Jim comfort Huck when Huck tells him of the return of his father? Is his advice good?
- first mention of the river (20)
- Pap: (Twain's representation of the adult world, ie America)
- Huck's Escape
- first mention of Pap: the drowned man (24)
- a heel
print in the snow with a cross on it (27-28) (Huck's first
reaction to seeing it?)
- first description of Pap; Why does Pap want Huck back?
- What can be done to protect Huck
from him? (33) (anything in Tom's books? Miss Watson's book? Judge Thatcher's law books?) Huck goes to Jim for help: the hair ball story (29)
- What comes of Pap's attempt
to get off the jug? (33-34)
- What does Pap do when the Widow takes out a restraining
order against him?
- What can be done about people like him?
- The nightmare: life with
Pap (the saddest thing: what does Huck think of it? What
doesn't he realize?)
- What does Huck plan
to do with himself once he has escaped?(38-39)
- Pap on the nigger and the
guv'ment (39) (What is the link between poverty and racism?)
- the D.T.'s
- Jim and Huck on Jackson's Island
(Twain's use of the
uncanny to represent psychological states. See Freud on "The Uncanny".)