Huck Finn PowerPoint

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Persons attempting to find a motive in this
narrative will be prosecuted; persons
attempting to find a moral in it will be
banished; persons attempting to find a plot
in it will be shot.
By Order of the Author
Per G.G., Chief of Ordnance
Twain defined a classic as “a book which people praise
and don’t read.” Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has
always been popular with readers; at the same time it
has had many critics attempt to censor it.
Picaresque Novel
The picaresque novel was introduced as a
genre of fiction in 18th c. Spain. It is usually
satirical and depicts, in realistic and often
humorous detail, the adventures of a
roguish hero of low social class who lives
by his wits in a corrupt society.
The Picaro
Picaro means rogue
or rascal.
He is the antithesis
of the medieval
While a Knight…
Was of noble birth, from
a worthy, mighty
The Picaro’s background was low and
A knight’s adventure
While a knight went on
quest for something
A Picaro’s adventures
often involved
escaping from the
While a Knight embodies
Virtue, superhuman
strength and ideal
The Picaro is often
physically weak and
survives through
deception, stealth and
Episodic Plot
The book was written over a number of
Twain started it in 1876 and finished it in
It was originally intended as a number of
episodes that satirized faults of American
To the River, Against Slavery
Originally Twain thought that Huck would
flee Pap’s cabin and encounter a number
of adventures across land.
But Twain knew and loved the river and so
he set Huck afloat.
When Huck discovers Jim on Jackson’s
Island, he has a companion and a new
The plot switches to helping
Jim obtain freedom. Jim
and Huck float SOUTH.
An escaped slave should
head NORTH.
Supposedly the two will
book steamboat passage
at Cairo, BUT…
There’s one little problem.
What to do next?
Twain wanted to write about life in the South
along the river – he did not really want to
send his characters north and write about
unfamiliar territory.
Therefore, he got stuck in the middle and
abandoned the book for some years.
Twain’s “I’ve Got It” Moment
He eventually solved
this problem by
introducing the King
and the Duke and
having them kidnap
Huck and Jim, forcing
them to continue
“Read receptively, but also read
-- Edward Said
(Palestinian-American Literary Theorist)
Reading Receptively…
We can appreciate the
portrayal of Jim as a
loving, caring parent.
The father-son
relationship that
develops between
Huck and Jim is in
stark contrast to
Huck’s own father.
Huck is the true innocent and
divine fool.
He sees the truth about society. His “death” at the
start of the book is a kind of burying of his past
and conventions.
Huck’s transformation
Huck gradually comes to see Jim as a real
person, not as a stereotypical slave. First
is Jim’s remorse over tricking Jim about
being separated in the fog:
“It was 15 minutes before I could work
myself up to go and humble myself to a
n…-but I done it, and I warn’t ever sorry
for it afterwards, neither.”
Climax of the Novel
In chapter 31, after Huck writes a letter
telling the widow where to find Jim he says
to himself:
“’All right then, I’ll go to hell’” –and tore it up.”
River as a Third Character
“What you want, above all things, on a raft,
is for everybody to be satisfied, and feel
right and kind towards others.”
Contrast to Town
The peace and
harmony on the river
is in contrast to the
rapscallions Huck
meets on shore:
• the Grangerfords and
• Col. Sherburn and
• The King and the
Reading Resistantly…
The question, “Should
Huckleberry Finn be
banned?” was first
posed in 1885 – the
year the book about
an interracial
friendship was first
“Anti-hero” of the Nursery
-Members of the Public Library of Concord,
Massachusetts banned the book because
it was "rough, coarse and inelegant,
dealing with a series of experiences not
elevating, the whole book being more
suited to the slums than to intelligent,
respectable people."
The troubling N-Word
The word “nigger” is
used over 200 times
in the book. A
derogatory term when
Twain wrote the book,
the word is even less
acceptable today.
Taught in High Schools?
During the 1990’s it was one of the most
frequently challenged books, primarily
because of its language.
Aspects of a Minstrel Show
The minstrel show was an American
entertainment consisting of comic skits,
variety acts, dancing, and music,
performed by white people in blackface.
Jim as a Minstrel Character
Minstrel shows lampooned black people as
ignorant, lazy, buffoonish, superstitious,
joyous, and musical.
Do scenes—such as those with the king and
Duke – portray Jim in this light?
Book Illustrations also suspect
Famous Hemingway Quote
“All modern American literature comes from
one book by Mark Twain called
Huckleberry Finn…It’s the best book we’ve
had. All American writing comes from that.
There was nothing before. There has
been nothing as good since.”
What did Hemmingway leave out?
What is in the ellipses?
The Ending with Tom Sawyer
“If you read it you must stop where the
Nigger Jim is stolen from the boys. That is
the real ending.”
Indeed, many find the foolishness of Tom
nearly unbearable. Once again, Jim’s
humanity is denied and Huck falls under
Tom’s spell.
The Last Words
“But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory
ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally
she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me
and I can’t stand it. I been there before.”
Myth of the West
Like Holden Caulfield, Huck cannot find any
good in society and cannot abide by its
Unlike Holden who is hospitalized, Huck can
set out on another adventure – seeking
freedom from rules and an escape from

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