Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Twain, Mark, pseud.; (Samuel Langhorne Clemens)


Develop any one of these essay topics for your final essay on Huck Finn.

  1. Mark Twain has been praised for his careful use of the vernacular in Huckleberry Finn. "at is the overall effect of the language used in the novel?
    Reread Twain's explanatory note at the beginning of the novel. How did the different dialects and speech styles affect your reading of the novel? Your response to the characters? Twain has also been criticized for his extensive use of the word nigger. Why do you think he included the word? Would the novel have been as effective without it? Huck says at the end, ". - . if I'd 'a'knowed what a trouble it was to make a book I wouldn't 'a'tackled it, and ain't a-going to no more." Were you surprised by that statement, or had you felt as if Huck was truly writing the book? Explain.
  2. How does Huck characterize aristocrats-"kings and dukes and earls and such"-in Chapter 14?
    Foreshadowing is a writer's use of hints or clues to indicate events that will occur later in a narrative. How does this conversation between Huck and Jim foreshadow the arrival of the duke and the king in Chapter 19? What historical examples support Huck's beliefs about nobility?
  3. What is ironic about Huck's experience at the circus (Chapter 22)?
    Dramatic irony is created when the reader or audience understands meanings in the story that one or more of its characters do not. Reread the paragraph near the middle of Chapter 31 beginning "It made me shiver." What is ironic about Huck's confession of why he couldn't pray?
  4. Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer appear side by side in the first and last parts of the novel. How are the two boys both alike and different?
    What is ironic about Huck's admiration of Tom's elaborate ideas? What growth does the novel show in either character?
  5. The novel's setting alternates between the river and the shore. What do these two settings come to represent?
    What does the river offer Huck and Jim in the beginning? Later on in their journey? Reread the end of Chapter 18 and the beginning of Chapter 19. How does Huck feel on the raft? How does he change on the shore? How do the duke and the king affect Huck and jim's life on the river? How does the conflict between the river and the shore relate to Huck's internal struggle about Jim?
  6. What message does Twain's portrayal of crowds convey to the reader?
    What view of the townspeople does Colonel Sherburn express in Chapter 22? How does the mob that drives the duke and the king out of town in Chapter 33 support Sherburn's view? Why doesn't the reader sympathize with the crowds swindled by the duke and the king? What is the author saying?
  7. While traveling down the Mississippi, Huck encounters a wide variety of people. Based on his own interactions with those people and his observations of their interactions with other people, do you think Twain's view of humanity in general is positive or negative? What examples support your opinion?
    What sort of people are the ferryboat captain and the two men in search of runaway slaves? What does Huck learn from the Grangerford- Shepherdson feud? From Colonel Sherburn's killing of Boggs? What does the Wilks incident reveal about the duke. and the king? How are the Wilks girls and the Phelpses portrayed?