The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Suggested Essay Topics
by Mark Twain

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Suggested Essay Topics

Chapter 1
1. The Widow Douglas and her sister, Miss Watson, are both trying to “sivilize” Huck. Compare and contrast their attitudes toward Huck. What method does each one use in her efforts to turn him into a “respectable” citizen? How do those methods differ? How are they the same? Cite examples from the novel to support your argument.

2. Analyze the scene where Huck flips the spider into the candle. Why does he feel that this would bring him bad luck? How does this scene foreshadow superstition in the novel? Support your answer with examples from the novel.

3. Twain chooses a 13-year-old boy as narrator for his novel. In what way does this help to accomplish Twain’s purpose? Discuss the ways in which a young, innocent narrator can make a profound statement about the hypocrisy of his society. Explain your answer.

Chapters 2-3
1. Although Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer are presented as contrasting characters in the novel, they are alike in many ways. Compare and contrast the characters of Huck and Tom, giving examples from the novel to support your argument.

2. Analyze Jim’s idea that he has been ridden around the world by witches. Why was he proud? Were the slaves the only ones who believed Jim’s story? Does Huck believe it? Explain your answer.

3. Analyze the role of respectability in Tom Sawyer’s supposedly lawless gang. Why is it mandatory for each member to have a respectable family? Examine the idea that Huck, who has had more experience with breaking the law than any of the others, comes close to being excluded from the gang.

Chapters 4-5
1. Superstition is a recurring theme in the novel. Analyze Twain’s satiric treatment of the hairball scene. Examine the answers Huck receives about his life. How does Jim keep the hairball’s comments believable?

2. Analyze the relationship of Huck and his father. In what ways was he different from the ideal? How did this influence Huck’s feelings about society as a whole? Explain your reasoning.

3. Analyze Judge Thatcher’s reactions to Huck’s request to take his money. Why did the judge exchange one dollar for six-thousand dollars? Was he cheating Huck? Explain your answer.

Chapters 6-7
1. Huck seems to adapt to almost any situation. He has become accustomed to civilized life with the Widow Douglas. Later he finds life in the woods carefree and easy. Analyze the character of Huck. Discuss possible reasons for his adaptability to different situations. Use examples from the novel to support your argument.

2. In the novel Pap does not appear to be a civilized man. Discuss ways in which he does, however, fit into the larger society. Does he compare to the Widow Douglas in any way? Explain your answer.

3. Huck wishes Tom Sawyer were with him to add some “fancy touches” to his plan of escape. Discuss the difference between Huck’s scheme of faking his death and the attack on the “A-rabs” and “Spaniards” in Chapter 3. Cite examples from the novel to support your ideas.

Chapters 8-9
1. Huck’s most poetic language is prompted by a severe thunderstorm on the island. Discuss the reasons for this. In what way does the storm inspire him? Why is he not afraid of the storm? Use examples from the novel to support your argument.

2. If Huck keeps Jim’s secret of his escape, people will call him a “low-down Abolitionist.” In what way are those words more effective when spoken by a young narrator? Explain the irony in Huck’s statement. What is Twain’s message about the hypocritical values of his society? Explain your answer with examples from the novel.

3. Miss Watson could sell Jim for eight hundred dollars. He, therefore, feels rich because he owns himself. Explain Twain’s use of satire in Jim’s statement . What was Twain’s attitude toward slavery in this passage? Explain your answer.

Chapters 10-11
1. Huck’s growing concern for Jim’s welfare is evident in many ways. Discuss the events where this concern is reflected in Huck’s behavior. In what ways does he protect Jim...

(The entire section is 3,095 words.)