Huckleberry Finn Date_________________ Hr._________________
Huckleberry Finn—Study and Discussion Guide
“All modern American
literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.” Ernest
Hemingway in The Green Hills of
1. What do we know about Huck from the way he talks?
2. What is a “stretcher”?
3. Why does Mark Twain begin Huck Finn with a reference to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer?
4. How does Huck feel about being “civilized”?
5. “The widow she cried over me, and called me a poor lost lamb, and she called me a lot of other names, too, but she never meant no harm by it.” Exactly where does the humor of this sentence lie?
6. Why does Huck prefer the “bad” place to the “good” place?
7. What does Huck’s reaction to the burning of the spider show us about him?
8. What trick does Tom play on Jim?
9. How does Huck feel about it?
10. How does Jim react to the trick?
11. If you were going to join Tom Sawyer’s gang, what would you have to agree to do?
12. What do we learn about Tom as the head of the gang?
13. How does Ben Rogers react to the ransoming idea?
14. What does Huck think about praying?
15. Why does Huck decide that there must be two Providences?
16. What does Huck think of Pap?
17. Why does Huck resign from the gang?
18. Huck and Tom have very different outlooks on “A-rabs” and on “rubbing lamps” etc. What does this show about them?
19. Why does Huck “sell” his fortune to Judge Thatcher?
20. What does the “hair-ball” tell Jim about Huck’s future?
21. Describe Pap.
22. Is Pap realistic? (Believable)
23. How does Pap fell about Huck going to school?
24. How does the new judge find out how Pap really is?
25. Why is Huck going to school now?
26. Why does Huck at first enjoy living with Pap?
27. How does Pap feel about the “govment” and “educated niggers”?
28. Account for Pap’s unusual behavior.
29. Why does Huck kill the pig?
30. As Huck prepares to escape, he wishes Tom Sawyer wee there. “I knowed he would take an interest in this kind of business, and throw in the fancy touches.” How are Huck’s preparations different from those Tom would make?
31. Describe Huck’s emotions when he first sets out on the river.
32. Where is Huck headed?
33. Why are people firing a cannon over the water?
34. What is the reason for floating bread down the river?
35. Why does Huck scare Jim?
36. Why has Jim run away?
37. Why is the chapter entitled, “I Spare Miss Watson’s Jim”?
38. Is there any difference between the superstition of Huck and the superstition of Jim?
39. The functions of chapter 8 are to bring Huck and Jim together as twin protagonists representing escape, to add color of time and place through language and description of customs, and to establish the character of Jim. What does the chapter suggest about civilization?
40. At this point, how would you describe Huck’s attitude toward Jim?
41. Why is there a house floating down the river?
42. What do Huck and Jim find in the house?
43. How does the snake come to be in Jim’s blanket?
44. What does Jim do for the snake bite?
45. What does Huck’s reaction show about him?
46. Why does Huck dress up like a girl?
47. What information does Huck get from Mrs. Judith Loftus?
48. What story does Huck tell Mrs. Loftus when she sees through his disguise?
49. What three things does Huck do that show that he is a boy?
do Huck and Jim leave
51. Describe the raft and the life Huck and Jim lead when alone on it.
52. How do Huck and Jim get food?
53. Why are Huck and Jim able to feel comfortable about borrowing things?
54. Why does Huck insist on boarding the Walter Scott?
55. Who are: Bill? Jake? Turner?
56. What do Bill and Jake decide to do with Turner?
57. What terrible discovery does Jim make at the end of the chapter?
58. Huck and Jim escape from the Walter Scott in the lifeboat, leaving the murderers trapped on the wreck. How does Huck feel about leaving them?
59. How does his concern differ from the widow’s?
60. How does Huck try to help the murderers?
61. What happens to the murderers?
62. Why does Jim decide that he doesn’t want any more adventures?
63. Why does Jim “take no stock in…Sollermun bein de wises’ man dat ever live’”?
64. Why does Huck decide that it is useless to argue with him?
65. Is Mark Twain expressing opinions through Jim or Huck?
do Huck and Jim plan to do when they reach
67. Describe how Huck felt when he was alone in the fog.
68. Huck tells Jim that the separation in the fog was a dream. Why is Jim so hurt by Huck’s trick?
69. Why is Huck’s response to Jim’s rebuke significant?
is Huck so uneasy about approaching
71. Explain what Huck calls “conscience.”
72. How does it conflict with helping Jim escape?
73. What decision does Huck make to quiet his conscience?
74. How does Huck keep the men in skiff from checking out the raft?
75. What decision does Huck make about doing right and wrong?
76. Why did Huck and Jim have to change their plans?
77. How did Huck and Jim get separated?
78. How does Huck solve the problem of forgetting his name?
79. What does Huck think of the Grangerfords? Of their home?
80. Huck often makes interesting observations. His comment on Emmeline Grangrford is, “I reckoned that with her disposition she was having a better time in the graveyard.” What does this show about Huck?
81. Why is the topic of the Sunday sermon “satiric”?
82. What has happened to Jim since the last time Huck has seen him?
83. What does Miss Sophie do?
84. What happens to the various Grangerfords?
85. What does Huck do?
86. Read aloud Huck’s description of river life that begins, “Two or three days and nights went by; I reckon I might say they swum by, they slid along so quiet and smooth and lovely.” What causes Huck’s new appreciation of life on the raft?
87. The peaceful interlude on the raft is disturbed by the arrival of the duke and the dauphin (king). Describe these two “rapscallions.”
88. When the duke and the dauphin first got on the raft, why did they talk to each other and ignore Huck and Jim?
89. Huck says, “It didn’t take me long to make up my mind that these liars warn’t no kings nor dukes at all, but just low-down humbugs and frauds.” Why does he pretend to believe them?
90. How does Huck explain Jim to the duke and the king?
91. How do the king and duke treat Huck and Jim?
92. What does the king do at the camp-meeting?
93. How does the duke arrange for them to travel in the daytime? This chapter paints a fuller picture of the two hitchhikers that Huck and Jim have taken aboard. You will remember that the Grangerfords were first characterized through their possessions. How are these two men drawn?
94. What are the king and duke getting ready for?
95. What kind of town is Bricksville?
96. Why had Boggs come to town?
97. What did the “loafers” think of Boggs’ threats?
98. Describe the murder of Boggs.
99. How did the townspeople react to the murder?
100. Why did the “Lynching Bee” fail?
101. What does Sherburn think of the men in the mob?
102. Is he right?
103. Sherburn’s speech is the only place in the novel where the point of view shifts for any length of time. Why, at this point, does Twain let Sherburn take over?
104. Why does Huck enjoy the circus so much?
105. How successful is the Shakespearean Revival?
106. How does the duke plan to get an audience for the low-comedy presentation?
107. Compare the incident at the circus with the shooting of Boggs. In what ways are the situations similar? How does Huck’s response differ from the crowd’s in both instances?
108. Why doesn’t the audience “take care of” the king and the duke after the first performance?
109. What happens on the third night?
110. Discuss Huck and Jim’s comments on royalty in this chapter. Is it believable for Huck to know so much history? Explain.
111. Why is Huck amazed at Jim’s mourning his home and family?
112. What does the story of ‘Lizabeth show about Jim?
113. Why is Jim dressed up like a sick Arab?
114. Huck’s last statement in this chapter is, “It is enough to make a body ashamed of the human race.” What is Huck talking about?
115. How does Twain make it believable for the two rogues to impersonate the Wilks brothers?
116. Huck describes the tearful scene at the Wilkes as the most disgusting thin he has ever seen. Does he mean only the king’s performance?
117. Why does the king give the money to Mary Jane?
118. Have the “rapscallions” hood-winked everybody?
119. What decision does Huck make?
120. What are the plans of the king and the duke?
121. Where did Huck hide the gold?
122. Describe the undertaker.
123. Where is the humor in Huck’s observation, “There warn’t no more popular man in town than what that undertaker was”?
124. How are the king’s plans progressing?
125. What is special about Mary Jane?
126. Why is she the only person to whom Huck tells the truth?
127. Why do the men decide to dig up the corpse?
128. Huck concludes the chapter by saying, “So I silted right down onto the planks then, and give up; and it was all I could do to keep from crying.” What’s bothering Huck?
129. Why are the king and the duke fighting?
130. Why do they get back together?
131. What do the king and duke do to Jim?
132. Why does Huck write Miss Watson?
133. Why does he tear up the letter?
134. Huck has rebelled against civilization before. At Miss Watson’s he smoked, played hooky and left his room nights to sleep in the woods. What is different about this decision?
135 Tearing up the letter to Miss Watson has been described as one of the great moments in American history. A Southern boy breaks free of the social convention that surrounds him and risks his soul to free a Negro slave. Why is Huck just the boy to tear up that letter?
136. Discuss the implications of Huck’s conclusion, “All right, then, I’ll go to hell.”
137. Huck again encounters the duke. What happens?
138. What is Huck’s new name?
139. Why is that convenient for Huck?
140. Why is Huck surprised at Tom’s willingness to rescue Jim?
141. Why is Tom willing to do it?
142. What new identity does Tom assume?
143. How does Huck feel when he sees the king and duke tarred and feathered?
144. Do they deserve his pity?
145. Why is Huck so annoyed with his conscience?
146. Does the fact that both Tom and Huck are on the plantation add to or detract from the plot?
147. How did Tom figure out where Jim was?
148. Compare Huck’s plan for freeing Jim with Tom’s.
149. What does Huck think of Tom’s fancy touches?
150. What are the dangers of Tom’s approach?
151. Some critics think that Jim’s rescue is an inappropriate ending to the novel. They wonder how Huck, with his new maturity, can consent to Tom’s foolish scheme. Do agree with these critics? Why or why not?
152. What is the whole chapter, “Dark, Deep-Laid Plans” about?
153. Huck says, “When I start to steal a nigger, or a watermelon, or a Sunday-school book, I ain’t no ways particular how it’s done so it’s done.” How would Tom feel about this statement?
154. Why does Jim agree to go along with everything?
155. What’s Nat’s problem?
156. What is the topic of conversation at the breakfast table?
157. How does Tom manage to get the things he needs for the escape?
158. Describe the baking of the witch pie.
159. What is the irony involved in the fetching of the grindstone?
160. Why does Tom try to talk Jim into keeping a pet rattlesnake? Rats?
161. What purpose does this chapter serve?
162. Describe Jim’s ordeal.
163. Why does Tom write anonymous letters?
164. What does he say in them?
165. What does Huck find when he goes into the setting-room?
166. When the butter melts down Huck’s face, what does Aunt Sally think it is?
167. What one thing really goes wrong in the escape?
168. When Huck says, “I knowed he was white inside, and I reckoned he’d say what he did say,” what is he talking about?
169. Why doesn’t Huck go with the doctor?
170. How does he explain his absence to Uncle Silas?
171. What is Old Mrs. Hotchkiss’ theory?
172. Why doesn’t Huck go check on Tom that night?
173. Why don’t they hang Jim?
174. What does the doctor think of Jim?
175. What does Tom tell Aunt Sally?
176. Why had Tom worked so hard to set Jim free when he was already free?
177. Who arrives on the scene to really straighten things out?
178. What were Tom’s plans concerning Jim after he was free?
179. What does Huck find out about his father?
180. Does it seem right that Huck has been an orphan all along?
181. Where is Huck bound for at the end of the novel?
182. Why does Huck reject civilization?