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Huck Finn Presentation Project

Huck Finn Presentation Project

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Published by: word-herder on Nov 19, 2010
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03/06/2013

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Discussion Questions onMark Twain's 
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
 1.Compare and contrast society in Twain's time to today's society.Does time change the "message" of the book?
2.
Ernest Hemingway has said that all modern American literaturecomes from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. What featuresmake this book modern? What features make this bookAmerican?
3.
What makes The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn a controversialand banned book? What makes the book important and popularin today's world?
4.
What elements mark
Huckleberry Finn
as a mythical orarchetypal story? Does it follow the elements of other genres,such as the picaresque?
5.
In what ways does
Huckleberry Finn
attack romanticism andpromote realism? In addition to Tom Sawyer, what characters,scenes, or incidents contribute to this theme?
6.
If we assume, as Twain says, that the novel celebrates thetriumph of a "sound heart" over a "deformed conscience," whatare the steps in that process? Look closely at the relationshipbetween Huck and Jim. What incidents mark steps in Huck'smoral growth? Provide a graphic to aid in viewing thisprogression.
7.
Huckleberry Finn
is celebrated for its style, especially Twain's useof vernacular speech and dialect. Examine a short section of thebook and explain what kinds of features (sentence structure,irony, word choice, repetition, and so forth) he uses to achievethe effects.8.What kinds of humor occur in the novel? Does Twain use humorfor serious effects? What debt does it owe to Southwesternhumor? to understatement or irony? to set pieces of humorousdialogue like the "Sollermon" debate?9.Feminist critics such as Nancy A. Walker and Myra Jehlencontend that the female characters in the novel are critical toHuck's growth. Jehlen singles out the Judith Loftus episode as thepoint at which Huck becomes a person capable of saving Jim: "Byplunging Huck into the deepest possible limbo of identity," theepisode teaches Huck to question the constraints of gender, and,by extension, race. Are the female characters significant in thisnovel, or could they easily have been omitted? What do theyrepresent? Discuss.
 
10.
Huckleberry Finn
is in some ways a novel in which violence ismingled with entertainment. In addition to its persistent mentionof death and its motif of unburied bodies (especially thosefloating in water), the novel shows Huck witnessing a series of violent episodes; he also describes a number of entertainingspectacles. What connection exists in the novel between violenceand entertainment?
11.
 The ending of 
Huckleberry Finn
, one of its most frequentlydiscussed features, has been criticized as abrupt, shallow, andunsatisfying. James Cox, on the other hand, defends the endingby saying that
we
are Tom who "safely" frees the slave who isalready free. Would you agree or disagree with thischaracterization? Why?
12.
Discuss
Huckleberry Finn
as a social satire. What classes does hesatirize? What characteristics of each class does he criticize?
From Dr. Donna Campbell
Department of English, Washington State University202J Avery Hall | (509) 335-4831campbelld@wsu.eduSkype, Facebook, and IM:
drcampbell6676Activities
13.
Construct a timeline that shows the different challenges
Huck Finn
has faced since it was published. For each challenge, thetimeline might include quotes from detractors, as well asresponses from the book's defenders.
14.
Choose one of the challenges made against the book and designa poster to express that point of view -- for instance, a posterthat could have been created by the Brooklyn Public Library in1907 warning parents not to let children read the book. You don'thave to agree with the point of view they portray, just convey itaccurately. Present their posters and explain the challenge theyhave represented.
15.
Research a current arts controversy through newspaper andmagazine articles, as well as the Internet. Keep a compare-and-contrast journal between that current controversy and
Huck Finn.
They might consider how political, cultural, historical, andother factors play a role in the two controversies. At the end of the unit, have them present a comparison in the form of anessay, chart, dialogue, or collage.
16.
Investigate the historical and societal factors surrounding thenovel, such as West African civilization, the Middle Passage,slave religion, abolition, and Reconstruction and its aftermath. Besure to explain how your topic is connected to the novel.
 
(found on PBS.org)Racial stereotyping:
Dunbar, Paul Laurence. "We Wear the Mask." In
Crossing theDanger Water: Three Hundred Years of African-American Writing,
edited by Deirdre Mullane. New York: Doubleday, 1993, 350.Hughes, Langston. "Minstrel Man." In
Children of Promise: African- American Literature and Art for Young People,
edited by CharlesSullivan. New York: Harry A. Abrams Publishers, 1991, 36.
17.
Present what the Hughes and Dunbar poems express? Providean illustration or a graphic organizer for the class.

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