The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Teaching and learning resources for the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an important novel for many reasons: its presentation of American themes, issues, and characters; its influence on later writers; its intrinsic quality as a complex, satirical adventure story. It’s also troubling to modern readers for its depiction of the era’s racism and for the racist stereotypes Mark Twain makes use of in the story. However, the novel is still well worth reading and teaching, in part because it offers a good opportunity to deal with those issues directly.

The excerpts from the novel I’ve linked here are rich in social commentary and rhetorical devices, and I’ve provided numerous comprehension questions about the passages that require close reading and thoughtful interpretation, along with essay prompts.

I highly recommend the essay by Shelley Fisher Fishkin linked here, which deals with a fresh and important interpretation of the novel: “In Praise of ‘Spike Lee’s Huckleberry Finn’ by Ralph Wiley.” Fishkin’s essay discusses Wiley’s insightful approach to the issue of African-American stereotypes in Twain’s depiction of Jim, a character who is much more sophisticated than he may seem.

The PBS Teaching Guide and the NPR article linked here may also be very helpful to teachers in addressing these and other issues.