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Kelley
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PostSubject: Discussion Questions   Thu May 24, 2007 9:14 am

1. Huck Finn is a thirteen-year-old boy. Why does Twain use a child as the center of consciousness in this book?

2. Discuss Twain’s use of dialects in the novel. What effect does this usage have on the reader? Does it make the novel less of an artistic achievement?

3. Discuss the use of the river as a symbol in the novel.

4. Lying occurs frequently in this novel. Curiously, some lies, like those Huck tells to save Jim, seem to be “good” lies, while others, like the cons of the duke and the dauphin, seem to be “bad.” What is the difference? Are both “wrong”? Why does so much lying go on in Huckleberry Finn?

5. Describe some of the models for families that appear in the novel. What is the importance of family structures? What is their place in society? Do Huck and Jim constitute a family? What about Huck and Tom? When does society intervene in the family?

6. The revelation at the novel’s end that Tom has known all along that Jim is a free man is startling. Is Tom inexcusably cruel? Or is he just being a normal thirteen-year-old boy? Does Tom’s behavior comment on society in some larger way?

7. What techniques does Twain use to create sympathy for his characters, in particular, Jim? Are these techniques effective?

8. Discuss the place of morality in Huckleberry Finn. In the world of the novel, where do moral values come from? The community? The family? The church? One’s experiences? Which of these potential sources does Twain privilege over the others? Which does he mock, or describe disapprovingly?

9. Why might Twain have decided to set the novel in a time before the abolition of slavery, despite the fact that he published it in 1885, two decades after the end of the Civil War?
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Kelley
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Number of posts : 890
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PostSubject: Re: Discussion Questions   Mon May 28, 2007 7:47 am

1. Huck Finn is a thirteen-year-old boy. Why does Twain use a child as the center of consciousness in this book?

I think that we are able to understand and forgive a child for his moral delemas, and the times that he doesn't do what seems right to us. Also, a child is allowed to grow through out the story, which is what I believe Twain would like the reader to do as well.

2. Discuss Twain’s use of dialects in the novel. What effect does this usage have on the reader? Does it make the novel less of an artistic achievement?

Once I got into the book, the dialects made it seem more realistic. I was able to diferentiate some of the different characters and their standings based on the way that they spoke.

3. Discuss the use of the river as a symbol in the novel.

The river not only symbolizes travel of distance and the passing of time, but most importantly Huck grows as he travels down the river. (The river itself is growing as it nears the ocean.) He becomes more mature and has a greater understanding of the world that he has been raised in and lives in. The river also seems to symblize worsening danger. The longer they are on the river and the further south they travel, the more compromising the situation they are placed in.

4. Lying occurs frequently in this novel. Curiously, some lies, like those Huck tells to save Jim, seem to be “good” lies, while others, like the cons of the duke and the dauphin, seem to be “bad.” What is the difference? Are both “wrong”? Why does so much lying go on in Huckleberry Finn?

5. Describe some of the models for families that appear in the novel. What is the importance of family structures? What is their place in society? Do Huck and Jim constitute a family? What about Huck and Tom? When does society intervene in the family?

6. The revelation at the novel’s end that Tom has known all along that Jim is a free man is startling. Is Tom inexcusably cruel? Or is he just being a normal thirteen-year-old boy? Does Tom’s behavior comment on society in some larger way?

I thought that knowing that Jim was a free man was cruel. It is beyond even a 13 year old boy, to pretend he doesn't understand the importance of this knowledge. I think that his not telling does comment on what society has taught Tom with regards to slaves. We are also posed with another question, Would Tom have helped Jim escape if he weren't already free?

7. What techniques does Twain use to create sympathy for his characters, in particular, Jim? Are these techniques effective?

8. Discuss the place of morality in Huckleberry Finn. In the world of the novel, where do moral values come from? The community? The family? The church? One’s experiences? Which of these potential sources does Twain privilege over the others? Which does he mock, or describe disapprovingly?

9. Why might Twain have decided to set the novel in a time before the abolition of slavery, despite the fact that he published it in 1885, two decades after the end of the Civil War?

I think Twain's choice to set the novel in this time allows for contreversy. Many readers would have been a part of slavery or the aboloitionist movement, and so the book would have stricken cords with them. I also believe that Twain is pointing at more than the just slavery in this book, but at the culture as a whole, and its willingness to "just go along, even at the expense of lives." (We saw the Judge was willing to go along with Huck's pa and let him have custody of the boy; the townspeople going along with Show so that their neighbors would also be embarressed, the people's willingness to blame Jim for the murder, the masses willing to be effected by the traveling evangelists, etc.) An that of course, is a timeless lesson.
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