Huckleberry Finn

The lesson is adapted from

Unit IntroductionHuckleberry Finn opens with a warning from its author that misinterpreting readers will be shot. Despite the danger, readers have been approaching the novel from such diverse critical perspectives for 120 years that it is both commonly taught and frequently banned, for a variety of reasons. Studying both the novel and its critics with an emphasis on cultural context will help students develop analytical tools essential for navigating this work and other American controversies. This lesson asks students to combine internet historical research with critical reading. Then students will produce several writing assignments exploring what readers see in Huckleberry Finn and why they see it that way.

Essential Questions: 

  • How does a critic’s cultural context help explain his or her opinions about a book?
  • What influences in my cultural context help explain my opinions about a book?
  • How does acknowledging my opinions’ origins in the culture around me, and recognizing that changes in culture cause changes in opinions, affect the way I state my opinion?

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, students will be able to

  • Read and write literary criticism
  • Perform historical/biographical analysis of non-fiction works
  • Define cultural context and describe aspects of others’ contexts as well as their own
  • Make inferences and develop the ability to provide convincing evidence to support their inferences


  • Journal responses to prompts
  • Peer critiques
  • comparing literary essays and arguing for the validity of each author’s argument
  • literary analysis
  • cultural analysis

Exploration of themes-

  • Coming of Age: Huck’s Search for Identity
  • Social Responsibility; Conformity and Civilization
  • Friendship and Betrayal
  • Freedom and Enslavement

Day 1: Cultural Context

Objectives: Students will be able to understand the cultural context and meaning of the novel The adventures OF Huckleberry Finn through research and small group discussion.

Do Now: What is culture? What’s cultural context?

Cultural context” is a term that is used often and defined rarely. Read Eric Miraglia’s definition of culture(What Is Culture?). Do you agree? Why or why not?

Mini Lesson and Guided Practice: Review key aspects of cultural contexts(A baseline definition of culture) that have had an impact on critics of Huckleberry Finn, particularly Victorian morality and more recent debates about race.

In pairs, discuss the following questions based on your reading of the site-

  1. What’s  culture? How do people gain culture?
  2. What’s a culture system? What elements make up the system that impact people’s behavior and values?
  3. How is culture taught and reproduced?
  4. To what the extent does culture consist of negotiated agreements and processes of negotiation?

Share your discussions in class.

Independent Practice

The Culture Debate in the U.S.: Whose culture is this, anyway?

Visit the site: The Culture Debate in the U.S.: Whose culture is this, anyway?

As a group , read and discuss an assigned website below and share your responses on the topic based on the article.(Group 1: Natalina, Youssef, Shuzel, Mykai, Jalon; group 2: Juleissy, Ashley, Evan, Karen, Jasmin; Group 3: Brian, Amberlyn, Romelo, Jesiree, Cassie)

  1. E.D. Hirsch, Jr., Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs To Know
  2. Alice Walker, “In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens”
  3. Richard A. Shweder, Thinking Through Cultures

End of the Lesson Assessment: How does your reading about culture today bring out a new meaning from the novel? Make sure to provide a quotation or two from your reading and a passage from the novel as evidence.

Homework: Read  “Understanding Literary context and author’s background” ( pages 11-13, Penguin Study Guide) and do research on one of the topics – Group 1 members on “Romanticism in American Literature, Group 2 members on ” Realism in American Literature, and Group 3 on ” Regionalism and Local Color Fiction 1865-1895.

Prepare an individual presentation in a report of your findings including historical context, musical and art. We’ll share our findings on Friday.


Day 2: Analyzing Primary Documents

Objectives: Students will be able to enrich their knowledge of historical context of the American Pre-Civil War period by viewing and analyzing relevant primary documents.


The Slave Narratives-

Creating context through works of art

  • Thomas Hart Benton’s 1936 mural, “A Social History of the State of Missouri” .Examine the mural for scenes that tell the story of Missouri’s state history. Which theme(s) is most broadly depicted in this work?
  • George Caleb Bingham’s “Fur Traders Descending the Missouri” (1845) .Consider occupations that are part of river life, in 1845 and now. Compare the economic reward to the danger of the job.
  • Norman Rockwell’s 1940 Illustration, “Jim and the Hairball”; see Representing Jim, 1885-1985
  • E.W. Kemble’s Original Illustrations of Huckleberry Finn with commentary; also see Mark Twain in His Times link. Rockwell and Kemble illustrate scenes from the novel itself. What biases do these illustrators exhibit in their depictions of Jim, Huck, and characters from the novel? Would any of these illustrations be considered racist or stereotypical by today’s standards? How is art used in these illustrations to inform readers beyond the written word?
  • John Gast’s “American Progress or Manifest Destiny” (1872) One mark of civilization is social, political, and cultural advancement. In this painting, what or who represents progress? Who is not progressing in the work? What is the plight of those who are deemed uncivilized?

Creating Context though Music

  • Spirituals and Slave Songs-Slave life left too many motherless (or fatherless) in separations of families, making these songs often mournful. Students should examine both the lyrics and texts of these works in connection with Jim’s and other slaves’ plight in Huck Finn. (Note that Huck is a motherless child himself). Follow the Drinking Gourd” “Deep River” “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” “Wade in the Water” (contains river imagery) “Many Thousand Gone” (or “No More Auction Block for Me”) “Run Mourner Run” “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child”
  • Minstrel Songs:  How do these songs humanize slaves, despite their racist wording? Stephen Foster’s “Massa’s In De Cold Ground,” “Old Folks at Home,” and “Old Kentucky Home” Dan Emmet’s “Dixieland”
  • Abolition Songs:  Discern which were performed for abolition meetings in the parlors of movement leaders and which were more easily sung as marching songs. (Note that Huck is troubled by the prospect of being an abolitionist and what people in his slave state of Missouri will think of him should he help a slave escape). “The Grave of the Slave” “The Fugitive’s Song” “Get Off the Track!” “Lincoln & Liberty” “John Brown’s Body”/ “Battle Hymn of the Republic” (recorded on Tippecanoe and Tyler Too: a Collection of American Political Marches, Songs, and Dirges, Chestnut Brass Company and Friends, 1992).


Day 3

Objectives: Students will be able to broaden their knowledge of the cultural context of the novel Adventure of Huckleberry Finn through sharing their prepared presentations.

Do Now:  How does your research gain deeper understanding and appreciation of the novel of Huckleberry Finn? Share one idea.

Mini Lesson and Guided Practice

How do we use songs, art and photos as well other primary documents to build and extend context that will help us gain deep understanding of a literary work?

Students from each group will meet those who are from a different group and share their findings on all four areas: slave narrative, art, music and literary context ( guide pages 7-13).

Share in class your best findings.

Teacher leads discussion and give feedback as well as assess students’ understanding on the topic.

Independent Practice

In addition to print sources on these topics, the following websites may be useful:On Victorian mores and other historical background. We’ll examine the the sites in small groups. While it is difficult to find sites that look at the Victorian era in an unromanticized way, these sites provide some unique perspectives:

In a group of three, discuss how the values and mores are reflected in the novel. Share your thoughts on a poster paper.

End of the Lesson Assessment: In what ways do we learn from the novel as a 21st century reader?


  1. Select one particular cultural aspect and find passages in the novel that illustrate the issue.
  2. Closely read one of the above websites and make connections between the novel and information you have read. Be specific.


Day 4: Mark Twain, The Lincoln of Our Literature:  Icon and Iconoclast

Objectives: Students will appreciate why Huck Finn novel is regarded as ” the Lincoln of our literature” by William Dean Howell and ” All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn” by Earnest Hemingway through small group discussions of critical essays on the novel.


Do Now: What is icon and Iconoclast? View some images of icon and iconoclast. In art, how are they defined? How are the definitions connected to literary texts such as the Adventure of Huckleberry Finn?

Mini Lesson with Guided Practice:

Review the literary critical essays on Huckleberry Finn( see the packet provided).

  • Two sites contain a wealth of these essays: the EDSITEment-reviewed Mark Twain in His Times, which contains dozens of contemporary reviews of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; and Huckleberry Finn Debated, 1884–2001, which contains reviews from Twain’s contemporaries through the present day.
  • Direction: In a small group, read one review that provides positive review of the novel, the other, the negative. Highlight the most important quotation that suggests the position. Explain whether you agree or disagree. Why. Share your evaluations in your group first.

Teacher leads class discussion.

Student Independent Activity

In pairs, visit and annotate one of the assigned websites from the list. Prepare for a brief presentation.

a. The Time Line of African-American History, 1852–1925, which is part of the EDSITEment-reviewed Library of Congress American Memory Collection.
b. The National Women’s History Project’s A Timeline of the Women’s Rights Movement 1848–1998, a link on the EDSITEment-reviewed History Matters site.
c. A Brief Timeline of American Literature, Music and Movies, 1890–1929, a link also on the History Matters site.
d. The 1900s Timeline, from and accessible through the EDSITEment-reviewed Internet Public Library.
e. Harlem 1900–1940: Timeline, a timeline from the EDSITEment-reviewed Harlem 1900–1940: An African American Community.
f. Mark Twain in His Times: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Contemporary Reviews, on the EDSITEment-reviewed Mark Twain in His Times.
g. Huckleberry Finn Debated, 1884–2001, edited by Jim Zwick and linked from the EDSITEment-reviewedInternet Public Library.

Homework: Read and annotate the handout “ Introduction to Literary Criticism and Analysis).


Day 5

Objectives: Students will be to demonstrate their critical way of seeing The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in Context by writing a critical analysis essay

  • Rationale: This will sharpen students’ familiarity with the book and with their own opinions of it. It will also help them to analyze other critics’ work if they have engaged in the same kind of endeavor, and it will provide a later body of evidence in which they can detect their own biases and cultural influences.

Resources & materials: 

Mini Lesson and Guided Practice:  Student critique

After reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, write a short (300 to 400-word) critique, either of the novel in general or of a specific aspect of the novel. [See .pdf file, Introduction to Literary Criticism and Analysis for guidance on writing a critique]

In a small group, discuss the critique assignment. Be sure to use substantial evidence from the novel to support your opinion or position.

Student Indepednet Practice: Comparing and contrasting two reviews of Huckleberry Finn

Compare and contrast the ideas in two published critiques or reviews of the novel from two different authors and time periods. Bear in mind all writers about a book are readers, and all individual readers notice and evaluate aspects of a text differently


  1.  pick two reviews that disagree on similar issues.
  2. choose critical essays from different eras,
  3. essays from the same time period or issue.
  4. Use charts to  report their findings. Is a simple.

End of the Lesson Assessment

In a critical analysis essay, demonstrate your critical way of seeing The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in Context. You can incorporate views from at least two of the critics’ reviews of Twain’s work. Be sure to use evidence to defend, refute or qualify your claims.

Homework: Pick two reviews that pose contrasting opinions. Identify the merits in one and explain why you agree; refute or qualify the viewpoints in the 2nd review.



Objectives: Students will be able to explore the cultural context of each critic whose work they are analyzing through looking at contemporary historical events and social practices during the critic’s life, governing such realms as race, gender, age and class-based roles in society.

Rationale: This background search will help students grasp what cultural context is and will give them a scholarly foundation for the inferences they will make in the next activity.

Resources: The following EDSITEment-reviewed websites provide diverse information that will help students gain a sense of historical influences and social practices that may influence critics:

a. The Time Line of African-American History, 1852-1925, from the EDSITEment-reviewed American Memory Collection.

b. The National Women’s History Project’s A Timeline of the Women’s Rights Movement 1848-1998, a link on the EDSITEment-reviewed History Matters site.

c. Gonzaga University’s A Brief Timeline of American Literature, Music and Movies, 1890-1929 , a link fromHistory Matters.

d. The 1900s Timeline, accessible through the EDSITEment-reviewed Internet Public Library.

e. Harlem 1900-1940: Timeline, a timeline from the EDSITEment-reviewed Harlem 1900-1940: An African American Community.

f. Duke University’s Ad*Access site, a terrific look at popular culture through advertising, a link through History Matters.

Do Now: Briefly discuss the similarities and differences among three literary analysis, literary criticism and cultural ( historical/biographical) analysis? (See .pdf file, Introduction to Literary Criticism and Analysis for guidance on writing a critique)

Mini Lesson and Guided Practice

Research the historical background of two of the critics ( who expressed opposing views on Huck Finn novel) and examine what have influenced him to write the review and values or morals implied of the time.

Steps to follow-

  1. Read two review from the past
  2. Find historical and social markers that may influence each critics(note what did not happen or had not yet happened). This may influence your inferences in the next step. For example, how could the fact that the Civil Rights Movement did not happen until after Booker T. Washington’s death explain some aspects of how Washington views Huckleberry Finn?
  3.  work in pairs or groups.

Student Independent Practice: How do social and historical context influence critics?

Students will reread the two published critical essays they compared earlier, and make inferences that answer the central question of the unit: How do the historical and social realities we found in our cultural context research seem to influence critics’ views of Huckleberry Finn?

Through research, you will come to understand the core of the cultural criticism; through the inferences you make  and the evidence you provide for those inferences, you will identify the relationship between a wider culture and an individual’s ideas ( Hint: consider pictures from magazines or family photo albums. What participator evidence will help you guess when the pictures were taken?)

Share your findings in small groups or 2 or 3.

End of the Lesson Assessment

In a critical analysis essay, demonstrate your critical way of seeing The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in Context. You can incorporate views from at least two of the critics’ reviews of Twain’s work. Be sure to use evidence to defend, refute or qualify your claims.

Homework: Complete the first draft of the essay. We’ll share the 1st draft in class on Tuesday.



Skills and concepts you have learned and explored-

  • examines how historical and social realities affect individuals. through reading materials that show the difference between the America of Twain’s childhood, which heavily influenced the characters and plot of the novel, and the America of the 1880s, which heavily influenced in complex ways Twain’s attitude toward the world of his childhood and the tone of his book.
  • analyzing the changes in Twain’s understanding of the world, particularly the roles of African-Americans in it, is Shelly Fisher Fishkin’s essay “Teaching Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” part of the PBS website on Huckleberry Finn and linked to the Internet Public Library.
  •  juggling with overlapping lenses of their own views, critics’ views, and the views seen through Huck’s narrating perspective.
  • examine Twain’s later writings, which clarify the differences between the older Samuel Clemens’ views and the young, fictional Huck Finn’s views on race.


Day 7

Objectives: Students will be able to write a cultural analysis of Huck Finn novel by integrating two critics views on the work.

Do Now: Share in pairs your revised thesis statement. Share in class. Provide peer critique.

Mini Lesson with Guided Practice

In order to write a cultural analysis of the novel, you will need to have completed the following preparatory work. In pairs, review the following guidelines , discuss their meaning and jot down questions you may still have about the essay:

  1.  Compare and contrast two critics’ views on Huck Finn novel by stating clearly the critics’ views respectively, similarities found between the critics’ views and differences. ( attach the heuristic to your final draft of the essay)
  2. Research on the critics’ or  background or the context about the magazines where the reviews were published, i.e. major historical events around the year when the reviews were published, etc. ( attach the heuristic to your final draft)
  3. A one or two- sentence novel summary( geared to your topic)  that leads to your thesis statement.
  4. Thesis statement needs to have the the most important ” portrayal” , and two verbs that suggest what the book is and has done( i.e. Through the portrayal of  Huck’s internal struggle  with whether he should hands Jim, the run-away slave, to the authority, Mark Twain reveals it is necessary people grapple with the good and evil in order to establish their own mores, foreshadowing the coming of the Civil War that eventually abolished the social evil, slavery.)
  5. A paragraph that proves the cultural context of the novel( major social events, controversies surrounding the novel, Twain’s own life in 1880 etc)
  6. Three bodies paragraph that help you illustrate your thesis, of which, two should ficus on defending positive views by the critics and one on challenging the critics view.
  7. Evidence from the novel needs to support  defense or challenge of the critic’s views. Evidence can be a specific quotation or summary of events in your own words.
  8. You can integrate rhetorical strategies into your analysis.
  9. Conclusion needs to answer so what: why are still reading Huck Finn? How does this novel shed light on today’s social issues?

Teacher responds questions and clarifies confusion.

Student Independent Practice: Read the Shelly Fisher Fishkin’s essay “Teaching Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” part of the PBS website on Huckleberry Finn and linked to the Internet Public Library.

In a group of three, read and discuss the article and identify new perspectives the article offers to your understanding of the novel and its significance.

Share in class.

Twain’s writings that define who and what he was as a writer-

  1. Chinese in San Francisco (such as Disgraceful Persecution of a Boy)
  2. 1869 anti-lynching editorial that he published in The Buffalo Express entitled Only a Nigger
  3. his father-in-law, Jervis Langdon ( an abolitionist)

End of the Lesson Assessment: According to Fishkin, what has the novel accomplished in history? What has Twain accomplished? What  responsibilities do we have as an individual reader in responding to the issues Twain addressees in the novel? What would you say if someone is offended by the language and particular scenes in the novel? What is the irony have you discerned in the novel? How effective is the use of it?

Homework: Complete the end of the lesson assessment. Continue working on your cultural analysis essay. Final draft is due on Monday March 14. You’l need to email it to me by 9:00 A.M. to be considered punctual.


Day 8

ObjectivesStudents will be able to understand Identifying and thinking about a key quotation or symbol in a novel can help a reader extract greater meaning from the work and a group paper analyzing literature should follow a logical organization.

Resources: Study Guide by Penguin Publisher

Materials:  Mark Twain’s novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Do now: Provide one example of each of the following themes embedded in the novel-

  • Coming of Age: Huck’s Search for Identity
  • Social Responsibility; Conformity and Civilization
  • Friendship and Betrayal
  • Freedom and Enslavement


Mini Lesson and Guided Practice

Part 1Culture of the River

  • before the Civil War, a map of Slave and Free states along the Mississippi River,
  • chart Huck and Jim’s path along the river with each chapter and episode of the adventures
  •  positions of states along the Mississippi regarding slavery and why these states might argue the need for slavery or for abolition.
  • Find references in the novel to the Underground Railroad, runaways and bounty hunters, Freedmen, and the “business,” economics, and politics of slavery.
  • Return to the Dynamic of Oppression. Chart which of these methods of oppression (so often recounted in slave narratives) are used within the novel.
  • The Mississippi River is a major character in this novel, and a dynamic one. Not only does it give life (and death) to humans and living things along it, but it also is a much traveled highway through the United States.  What are the major flora and fauna in and around the river and seasonal weather patterns on the river, including flooding, explaining how weather, plants, and animals named in the novel contribute to the story itself?

Part II: Round Robin – Read selected quotations from the Penguin Guide (pages 21-28)

Part III: As a concluding activity after reading and discussing The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, we’ll produce a group project in which you  demonstrate your familiarity with the novel by writing at length about a quotation from it or a symbol in it.

Here are some suggestions for choosing a quotation to write about (this advice applies to any novel, not just to Huckleberry Finn ):

  • Select a quotation that has already gained fame.
  • Select a quotation that contains strong emotion.
  • Select an impressive statement from the very beginning or the very end of the novel.

As an example of a quotation that is famous and contains strong emotion, you can cite the following statements by Huck in Chapter 8:

People would call me a low down Abolitionist and despise me for keeping mum—but that don’t make no difference. I ain’t agoing to tell [that I know where Jim, the runaway slave, is], and I ain’t agoing back there [to Jim’s owner] anyways.As an example of a quotation that is famous and that concludes the book, you can site the following statement from the end of Chapter 42:

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.3.  How to choose a symbol?

  • Select a symbol that figures in the novel dramatically—an item that the novel couldn’t exist without.
  • Select a symbol that has meaning not just in one scene but in the work as a whole.

As examples of symbols that dominate Huckleberry Finn and that the book couldn’t exist without, you can suggest, first, the raft and, then, the relationship between Huck and Jim, etc.

Student Independent Practice

Once you have identified a meaningful quotation or symbol,  write notes that show how the quotation or symbol relates to the work’s theme or main idea —say, the theme of self-growth through observing life closely and honestly; or the theme of the dangers of civilization.

5. How to organize your ideas about a quotation or symbol? Here’s one suggestion:

  • The first paragraph should include a thesis statement that (1) identifies the quotation or the symbol to be written about and (2) identifies a theme or main idea of the novel.
  • The next paragraph should give the writer’s translation or paraphrase of the quotation or the writer’s associations with the symbol.
  • The next paragraph should explain how the quotation or symbol informs all parts of the novel—beginning, middle, and end.
  • The final paragraph might explain how an intense study of the quotation or symbol helped the reader get more out of the novel.

Follow the same pattern of instruction, but lead the class step by step through a discussion of a quotation or symbol rather than sending students off to write individually about a quotation or symbol.

Homework: Prepare for the Socratic Seminar.


Day 10 Assessment of the Unit Huck Finn: Socratic Seminar

Objectives: Students will examine Twain’s ideas about slavery and human nature in a Socratic seminar .

Materials: copies of Huck Finn , prepared responses from homework; Socratic Seminar evaluation rubric, self-assessment sheet


  • READING: INFORMATIONAL – RI.11-12.1-7, 9-10
  • WRITING – W.11-12.1-10

Do Now: In pairs, briefly discuss the rules of conducting a Socratic Seminar for and check the necessary tools each participant needs to have to play a role. Ask questions if you are unclear about any particular rule. ( 5 minutes)

  • Form two concentric circles and have the inner circle discuss their responses to the questions ,providing evidence for their ideas and actively incorporating others into the discussion. (SL.11-12.1a-b, SL.11-12.4)
  • While the inner circle discusses, students in the outer circle evaluate the point of view, reasoning, participation, and use of evidence of an assigned partner in the inner circle. (SL.11-12.3)
  • Students in the outer circle record their evalation of their partners using the Socratic Seminar observation checklist.
  • Students in the inner circle don’t need to raise hands to talk. They should focus on the main speaker and wait their turn. They should respond to each other, using each other’s names and express agreement or disagreement in a courteous, thoughtful manner.

Round 1:

  • Inner circle-Mykai, Ashely, Brian( leader), Karen, Jalon, , Jasmin, Juleissy ( round 1)
  • Outer circle: Amberlyn, Jesiree, Shuzel, Evan, Yousself, Cassie( leader), Romela, Natalina ( round 2)
  • Observation/Evaluation Partners: Mykai-Amberlyn, Ashely-Even, Jesiree, Brain-Cassie, Karen-Shuzel, Jalon-Yousself, Jasmin-Romelo, Juleissy-Natalina

Rules for  Socratic Seminar leader

  • Your role as the facilitator is to ask( read)  questions and move along the discussion. You should be careful to limit your own talk time. Still, you play an active role shaping the dialogue andsynthesizing group’s ideas if necessay.
  • As your group members talk, listen carefully, so you can ask thoughtful follow-up questions. Keep track of talk time so you can encourage everyone to participate. It helps to draw a map of the dialogue, taking notes on participants ‘s responses. Afterward, use your notes to offer helpful feedback.
  • If the discussion gets out of hand, you might need to break in and remind students of the seminar rules and goals. But don’t get discouraged!

Sample questions to move along the discussion:

  • Who has a different perspective?
  • Who has not yet had a chance to speak?
  • Where do you find evidence for that in the text?
  • Can you clarify what you mean by that? How does that relate to what (someone else) said?
  • Is there something in the text that is unclear to you? Has anyone changed their mind?


Mini Lesson with Guided Practice 

These are today’s whole class discussion goals.-

  • You have already come so far in your discussion skills: making claims, referring to textual evidence, buidling off of each other, challeging each other’s ideas, inviting others into the conversattion, etc
  • You have developed your skills in keeping a topic alive by asking probing questions
  • You will learn to build your skills at using discussion to develop meaning by analyzing evidence  instead of simply including evidence.
  • You’ll also learn to acknowledge changes in your perspective.

Personal Goals: (Choose a personal goal to focus on during today’s seminar)

  • a. Ask a probing question;
  • b) build on others’ discussion by referring to the text or analyzing the evidence
  • c) contribute a new idea to the converstaion
  • d) synthesize group ideas
  • e) make eye contact with your peers when speaking
  • f) articulating your ideas
  • g)making more connections between ideas

Seminar Plan

  1. We’ll share one idea from Walden that stands out for you.
  2. Choose a personal goal: a. Ask a probing question; b) build on others’ discussion by referring to the text or analyzing the evidence c) contribute a new idea to the conversation d) synthesize group ideas e) make eye contact with your peers when speaking e) articulating your ideas f) practice listening
  3. Our class goal today is using discussion to develop meaning by analyzing evidence  instead of simply including evidence.


Student Independent Practice:Conducting a student-led Socratic Seminar

Opening Question: What purpose does Twain have in pairing Jim with Huck? In pairing the Duke with the King? In pairing Tom with Huck in the final chapters?

Core Questions: 

Round 1

  1. Mark Twain, as well as other American authors, like Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes, used dialect as a literary tool in his writing. Authors use dialect to enhance the mood of a book and portray characters as real, genuine. Discuss how dialect effects the mood and characters in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
  2. How are disguises used in this novel? How are multiple identities/aliases useful to Twain’s characters? In other Twain works?
  3. Who are the villains of this novel? Why are they villains?
  4. What does Twain satirize in the novel? Why?
  5. Note that Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” speech is used in the work though it is abused and mixed with other works. How does the use of this speech coincide with Huck and Jim’s pursuits of self? Discuss Shakespeare’s work and the events of the chapter in which the speech appears in Huck Finn to understand the dilemma on the raft.

——————————Switch Roles ( inner circle to outer circle and visa versa)

Round 2

  1. There are a number of accounts of thieves and dishonesty in the novel. Is there honor among these thieves? What is the purpose of these characters in the novel?
  2. Who are the heroes of this novel? What makes them heroic?
  3. Select a favorite quotation and explain why you believe it to be most pivotal to understanding the novel.
  4. Agree or disagree that Huck Finn defines American literature and that all modern literature comes from Huck Finn, as Hemingway suggests.
  5. Discuss how the feud between the Grangerfords and the Shepherdsons is symbolic of the Civil War. Do you agree that the novel is “a satirical treatment of the myth of romantic fiction, Southern chivalry, and witless honor”?

Closing Question

In what ways is Huck and Jim’s story also the story of America?

Homework: Leave your preparation for the Socratic Seminar as well as your evaluations in the designated folder.