Mark Twain and Huckleberry Finn

In 1998 I won the Compaq National Lesson Plan Contest. The award recognized the combination of an outstanding lesson plan and the fact that I had published the plan on a special Huckleberry Finn website which I had created. I retired from classroom teaching in 2000 and left the website online for teachers and students to use. I did not update the site from 1998 to 2012, 14 years, so most of the links were no longer useful. Visitors continued to use the site because of the original content. I have removed that original site and have retained the original content for publication on this page. -- Jim Neff


Discussion Schedule
This is a discussion schedule for Huckleberry Finn. Students are required to keep a chapter-by-chapter plot chart and take notes. Please notice that plot charts (and study questions) are due on specific dates.


Monday, Chapters 1-2-3 - Pages 1-14
Tuesday, Chapters 4-5-6-7 - Pages 15-36
Wednesday, Chapters 8-9-10 - Pages 36-55
Thursday, Chapters 11-12-13 - Pages 55-75 - Questions 11-12-13

Monday, Chapters 14-15-16 - Pages 76-95 - Plot Charts 1-16
Tuesday, Chapters 17-18 - Pages 95-116
Wednesday, Chapters 19-20-21 - Pages 117-145 - Questions 17-20
Thursday, Chapters 22-23-24-25 - Pages 145-170

Monday, Chapters 26-27-28-29 - Pages 171-205 - Questions 25-29
Tuesday, Chapters 30-31-32 - Pages 205-224 - Plot Charts 17-29
Wednesday, Chapters 33-34-35-36 - Pages 224-250
Thursday, Chapters 37-38-39-40 - Pages 251-276 - Questions 37-40

Monday, Chapters 41-42-43 - Pages 277-294 - Plot charts 30-43
Tuesday, Review for Test
Wednesday, Final Test on Huck Finn (essay test)
Thursday-Friday, Huck Finn Movie


Vocabulary Lists
These lists will be covered before we read the selected chapters. For each word give the part of speech, definition, and a sentence. 

CHAPTERS 1-16: 1) commence, 2) tolerable, 3) shrivel, 4) providence, 5) ingots, 6) oracle, 7) specimen, 8) infernal, 9) speculate, 10) hogshead, 11) vial, 12) pivot, 13) careened, 14) gaudy, 15) thicket.


CHAPTERS 17-29: 1) crockery, 2) reticule, 3) pensive, 4) impair, 5) pommel, 6) capered, 7) cavorting, 8) scow, 9) lineal, 10) histrionic, 11) phrenology, 12) contrite, 13) sublime, 14) soliloquy, 15) yawl, 16) pallet, 17) pone, 18) mesmerism, 19) frock, 20) passel, 21) rapscallion, 22) flapdoodle.


CHAPTERS 30-43: 1) dismal, 2) temperance, 3) venture, 4) bogus, 5) texas, 6) impudent, 7) insurrection, 8) garret, 9) inscription, 10) tedious, 11) brash, 12) ascend, 13) singular, 14) tapering off.


Study Questions
Answer the following sets of study questions. Be sure to use proper study question answer form.


Questions for Chapters 11-12-13
1. What information does Huck gather during his time on the Illinois shore?
2. The first five days/nights on the raft could be termed "idyllic." Give several examples to prove this point.
3. Discuss Huck's concept of "borrowin'." How is this an example of the struggle between Huck's sense of morality and his background?
4. How does the sequence aboard the Walter Scott show (once again) the contrast between make-believe and reality?
5. Chapters 12 and 13 contain new people who Huck encounters along the river. all of these people have character defects. Identify these people and discuss their flaws.

Questions for Chapters 17-20
1. Although Huck is impressed by the Grangerfords' home, further examination reveals how Twain uses the scene in a satirical way. What is your (real) impression of the interior of the Grangerford home?
2. What caused the Grangerford-Shepherdson fued?
3. What part of chapter 18 is like the Romeo & Juliet story?
4. What happens to the grangerford men (as a result of the fued)? How does this illustrate Twain's theme of "man's inhumanity to his fellow man?"
5. Where has Jim been while Huck has been with the Grangerfords?
6. Two men join Huck and Jim on the raft. Who do they claim to be?
7. How do the King and Duke plan to make money?
8. While they are in Parkville, what does the Duke do to make money (while the townspeople are away)? What does the King do at the camp meeting? How much does each man make?
9. How does the duke "fix it" so they don't have to hide Jim anymore?

Questions for Chapters 25-29
1. How does the king get information about Peter wilks (and his relatives and friends) that allows him to begin a fraudulent scheme?
2. The King and the Duke convince the Wilks girls and the townspeople that they are Harvey and William Wilks. Give some examples of the ploys they use to "convince" everyone.
3. What observations does Dr. Robinson have about the "brothers?"
4. How does GREED play a part in the King's and Duke's decision not to leave right away with the cash?
5. Huck steals the gold. What does he do with it?
6. Why does the sale of the slaves upset the Wilks girls (and the town)? How does the sale work to Huck's advantage?
7. Briefly, what is Huck's plan to thwart the frauds' swindle (and allow Huck and Jim to escape)?
8. When the real Harvey and William Wilks arrive how do the townsfolk attampt to determine which pair is telling the truth? How does this lead to Huck's escape?
9. During this whole section Huck has let some of his opinions be known to the reader regarding what he thinks of the swindle being perpetrated by the King and Duke. Find at least two occasions where he offers an opinion, and give his exact words.

Questions for Chapters 37-40
1. How do Tom and Huck confust the Phelps'? What is their purpose in doing this?
2. What "plans" does Tom come up with in chapter 38?
3. How does Aunt Sally react to snakes?
4. How does Jim react to rats, spiders, and snakes in his cabin? Why does Tom say these critters are necessary?
5. What occurance forces the boys to set the escape in motion?
6. What finally ensures the escape will be a difficult as possible?
7. How does Huck find out abou the "15 gun totin' farmers" in the Phelps' parlor?
8. When Jim, Tom, and Huck escape what happens to Tom? How do Huck and Jim react?


Film Review
The last thing we'll do in the Mark Twain Unit is watch a "wonderful" version of the Huck Finn movie. It stars Ron Howard and Donny Most from the old "Happy Days" TV series. When the movie is over you'll be doing a film review paper.

Film Review Directions: In this composition, you will be comparing the novel The Adventures of Huckleberrv Finn with one of the movie adaptations. Follow the outline. 


I. Introduction (You may use this introduction or one of your own.) Over the years many film adaptations of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn have been made. One such movie is the 1975 version starring Ron Howard.


II. Cinematography (Cinematography deals with the way the film looks and feels. Good cinematography makes the film more realistic. Poor cinematography results in a cheap looking film.) Write a paragraph about the cinematography of this film. Under this category are the following items: scenery, costuming, props, camera techniques, special effects, and music. You may comment on any or all of those items. (Special tip: It's better to make solid comments about a few items rather than do a "laundry list" of all the items.)


III. Performance (Performance deals with how the actors did their jobs.) Write a paragraph about the performance of the actors. Comment on these two things:
1. Casting -- Were the right actors chosen for the roles (or were they clearly wrong for the part).
2. Performance-- Once in the role, was the actor believable (delivery of lines, physical movements, dialects).

(Special tip: Remember how Twain described the characters.)


IV. Story/Script (Did the movie tell the story accurately.) Write a paragraph about how the novel was adapted for the film. Was the story the same as in the novel? Were scenes added or removed? (Special tip: Refer to the sheet of notes you took during the movie.)


V. Summary of Conclusions (How you would rate this movie.) Write a paragraph giving your overall evaluation of this movie. You may use the four stars rating system or one of your own. Was the movie worthwhile? Would you recommend this movie to a friend? Would that friend be better off reading the novel?