Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 3095
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 from danger? Cite examples from the novel to support your argument.
2. Huck’s ability to tell a story in order to get himself out of a “tight” situation is one of his greatest strengths. How does this apply to his encounter with Mrs. Judith Loftus? What does he do when she realizes he is a boy? Explain your answer.
3. When Huck curls up the snake at the foot of Jim’s blanket, he does not tell Jim that he has done it. What is his reason for keeping his little joke a secret? What lesson does Huck learn from it? How would Jim have felt if Huck would have told the truth? Discuss your answer.
1. Huck’s journey on the river is filled with adventures, but it is also a symbolic journey. What does his journey symbolize? How does his relationship with Jim tie in to the symbolism? Compare the symbolism of the shore to that of the river. Use examples from the novel to support your view.
2. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is often referred to as the embodiment of mythological characteristics. In what way does the journey down the river represent these characteristics? How is Huck’s escape from society and his love for the natural world of the river incorporated into this idea? Explain your answer.
3. Twain uses satire to expose people’s ability to rationalize their wrongdoings. In what way does Twain employ that device in the incident where Huck “lifts chickens” and “borrows watermelons”? What do the words “lifts” and “borrows” connote? Give examples from the novel to support your argument.
1. The relationship between Huck and Jim is brought into focus in these chapters. How does their frightening separation in the fog draw them closer together? How do they feel about each other at this point in the novel? Give examples from the novel to support your viewpoint.
2. Huck and Jim carry on a lengthy conversation about royalty. In what way does Twain satirize royalty in these chapters? What is Jim’s opinion of King Solomon? Why does he feel that way? Give examples from the novel to support your argument.
1. Huck makes a moral decision concerning Jim’s freedom in Chapter 16. How does this decision affect Huck as a character in the novel? Discuss the first time in the novel that he made a decision to help Jim escape to freedom. How did the decision affect him then? Cite examples from the novel to support your view.
2. There is irony in the statement Jim makes about stealing his children. In what way is it ironic that Jim’s children belong to someone else? Why did Huck feel it was morally wrong for Jim to claim his children as his own? Give examples from the novel to support your argument.
3. Critics believe Twain stopped writing the novel for a few years after he finished Chapter 16. Why would this have been a difficult place for Twain to continue? How does the setting of the novel change at this point? Explain your answer.
1. Harney Shepherdson and Miss Sophia are victims of the feud between the Grangerfords and the Shepherdsons. Compare and contrast their conflict with that of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. In what way was their situation the same? How was it different? Was Huck sympathetic with the young couple? Give examples from the novel to support your argument.
2. Twain employs satire throughout the novel to speak out against the hypocrisy and corruption in his society. In what way is the church service, attended by the Grangerfords and the Shepherdsons, an attack on the religion of Twain’s day? How does the hog incident add to the satire? Explain your answer.
3. In these chapters life on the raft is contrasted sharply with the violence and bloodshed Huck has recently encountered on the shore. How does this contrast bring out the theme of freedom in the novel? How does Huck feel about life on the raft? How does Jim feel? Use examples from the novel to support your viewpoint.
1. In the novel Huck continually tells stories to get himself out of tight situations. Why doesn’t this bother Huck’s conscience? In what way is Huck forced to tell a lie? Is Huck morally wrong in doing so? Defend your argument with examples from the novel.
2. It is during a natural phenomenon such as a thunderstorm that Huck uses his most artistic language. Discuss Huck’s feeling about the thunderstorm. Why is he not afraid of the storm? How does this symbolize his life on the river as opposed to life on the shore? Explain your answer.
3. There are many examples of gullibility in the novel. In what way does Twain satirize the gullibility of the people at the camp meeting? How does the king trick them into taking up a collection? Why do they believe him? Support your argument.
1. Twain is satirizing the lynch mob in these chapters. In what way can the individuals in a mob be seen as cowards? Discuss the psychology of a lynch mob. Why is Sherburn successful in breaking up the mob? Cite examples from the novel to support your argument.
2. Through the characters of the duke and the king, Twain is satirizing royalty. What qualities in a king would make him a “rapscallion?” How does Huck’s reference to kings throughout history prove his point? Explain your answer.
3. The relationship between Huck and Jim is growing deeper as the novel progresses. How is Jim’s humanity expressed through the eyes of Huck? How does Jim feel about Huck? How can Huck tell? Explain your answer.
1. In these chapters Twain satirizes the gullibility of the townspeople who believe an imposter like the king, but, ironically, do not believe Dr. Robinson. Write an essay comparing the gullibility of the townspeople to people in today’s world. In what ways are people gullible? What makes them gullible? Explain your answer.
2. Huck has become more critical of the duke and the king than he was in preceding chapters. Why has this change taken place in his character? Explain Huck’s moral development as it relates to previous chapters in the novel. Cite examples from the novel to support your argument.
3. The ultimate sacrifice in the eyes of the townspeople is when the king and the duke give the Wilks girls the whole six thousand dollars. Why do they give it away? What is their motive? What do they hope to gain? Support your argument with examples from the novel.
1. The king and the duke have been involved in several fraudulent schemes along the river. Compare and contrast the Wilks episode to The Royal Nonesuch in the last town. Why does Huck take action against the frauds in the Wilks episode? Why was he merely an observer in The Royal Nonesuch? How do they compare? How are they different? Use examples from the novel to support your argument.
2. The two frauds have supposedly been duped through their sale of the slaves. In what way do the king and the duke judge the slaves by their own standards? In what way do they think the slaves have played a game in order to get away with the money? Defend your argument with examples from the novel.
3. The separation of families through the selling of slaves is a recurrent theme in the novel. What is Twain’s attitude about this controversial issue? Cite at least two examples from the novel that deal with the separation of families and point out the way in which Twain satirizes the issue.
1. The novel is filled with examples of stories Huck tells when he is in a tight situation. In Chapter 28 he decides that truth is better than lies, however. Why does he have a change of heart in this chapter? How does Huck feel about Mary Jane? Does he trust her with the truth? Does he ever lie to her? Why does he depend on lies to get through difficult situations? Cite examples from the novel to support your argument.
2. Throughout the course of the novel, Twain uses descriptions of thunderstorms. Compare and contrast the description of the thunderstorm in Chapter 29 with descriptions in other parts of the novel. How are they the same? How is this one different? Cite examples from the novel to support your argument.
3. Mary Jane is one of Huck’s favorite people in the novel. What qualities does she possess that makes Huck fond of her? How is she different from her sisters? Explain your answer.
1. Huck makes his ultimate moral decision in Chapter 31 of the novel. What is Twain satirizing in this episode? Explain Huck’s natural morality as opposed to society’s morality. Use examples from the novel to support your answer.
2. Twain sheds a slightly different light on the duke in these chapters. What is different about the actions of the duke? How does this make us feel about him? Is the duke less evil than the king? Explain your answer.
3. Huck faces a moral decision to help Jim escape in three different epiodes of the novel. Explain each dilemma and describe how it affects Huck’s development as a character. Cite examples from the novel to support your argument.
1. Twain paints a bleak, depressing picture of the Phelps Plantation. Compare and contrast Huck’s view of life on the plantation to life on the raft. In what way is his view affected by his recent loss of Jim? Cite examples from the novel to support your argument.
2. Huck is shocked when Tom Sawyer tells him he will help steal Jim out of slavery. What does Tom know about Jim and how does that affect his decision? How does Huck view Tom as a member of society? How does he view himself? Support your answer with examples from the novel.
3. Jim acts as an informant in the case of the king and duke’s Royal Nonesuch show. In what way is justice being done? Why do you think Jim is seen in a different light in this section of the novel? Do his actions seem believable? Defend your argument with examples from the novel.
1. The contrasting personalities of Huck and Tom provide the reader with the satiric humor in these chapters. In what way do their personalities contrast? How are Tom’s romantic notions brought out in the plan to free Jim? How does Huck disagree? Cite examples from the novel to support your argument.
2. Tom and Huck disagree on the idea of stealing and borrowing. What does Huck call borrowing? What does Tom consider stealing? When does Tom consider stealing all right? When is it wrong? Support your argument with quotes from the novel.
3. In this section of the novel Tom already knows that Jim has been freed by Miss Watson. In view of this fact, how do you interpret his actions in the plan of escape? Is Tom unusually cruel to Jim by making him wait unnecessarily? Why doesn’t he tell Huck and Jim? Explain your answer.
1. Two different types of morality are demonstrated in the novel. Contrast Huck’s morality with Tom’s. How are they different? Explain the origins of each of the boys’ sense of morality? Cite examples from the novel to support your argument.
2. Twain often satirizes the religious sensibilities of his day through the characters in the novel. In what way is he satirizing Uncle Silas’s prayers with Jim? Do you feel Uncle Silas is being kind to Jim? Why does Jim feel his kindness? Explain your answer.
1. Jim is taken out of his prison to help Huck and Tom with the grindstone. In what way is this humorous incident ironic? Why does Jim go back to his prison? Why doesn’t he leave while he has the chance? Why don’t the boys help him to escape? Explain your answer.
2. Tom often prescribes cruel treatment for Jim in order to carry out his elaborate plan of escape. How does one account for his lack of sensitivity to Jim’s feelings? Is Tom a cruel person? How does Tom treat other people in the novel? Cite examples from the novel to support your argument.
3. Tom works on a coat of arms for Jim. Does he have sufficient knowledge of this subject? Is his knowledge limited? Why doesn’t he give Huck the definitions of “fess” and “bar sinister”? Support your answer with examples from the novel.
1. Jim unselfishly gives up his freedom so they can get a doctor for Tom. Does this act seem consistent with Jim’s character? Why does he do it? Describe one other instance in the novel where Jim is unselfish. Cite examples from the novel to support your argument.
2. Tom is happy when they reach the raft in spite of the fact that he has a bullet in his leg. Why is he happy? Why doesn’t he want to see a doctor? What instructions does Tom give Huck about the doctor? How is this a part of Tom’s plan of escape? Explain your answer with examples from the novel.
3. Huck invents stories throughout the novel to get himself out of tight situations. Is Huck’s story to the doctor as believable as his stories have been in the past? Does the doctor doubt Huck? Are there any flaws in his story. Use examples from the novel to support your argument.
1. Jim is often referred to as a noble character in the novel. In what way is his nobility shown in the last few chapters. How does he show courage by helping the doctor? Why does he do it? What price does he pay? Support your answer with examples from the novel.
2. The men who are attending to Jim want to hang him as an example to other slaves who might attempt to escape. Why do they decide against it? How does this incident satirize the morality of the men? Cite examples from the novel to explain your answer.
3. At the end of the novel Huck wants to escape so Aunt Sally will not try to “sivilize” him. How has the meaning of the word “sivilize” changed for Huck? In what way has Huck grown as a character in the novel? Give examples from the novel to support your argument.