The Mark Twain Experience – Part 3 – Huckleberry Finn
The last book we read before attending the Mark Twain lecture was Huckleberry Finn; we did read the abridged version this time. This book picks up with Huckleberry Finn living with the Widow Douglas. The problem with Huck living with Widow Douglas is he doesn’t like all the rules of “civilized” folk; going to school and church isn’t really him. However, Tom has bigger problems, his abusive father wants the money he and Tom found. This series of events leads to a kidnapping, a faked death and a runaway slave.
If you read Tom Sawyer you were introduced to a slave named Jim in the book. Jim has a more predominant role in this story. Huck and Jim work together to escape their respective living situations; Huck tries to help Jim become a free slave. On their quest to transport Jim to the North they meet 2 unsavory characters and get caught up in their various schemes. Huck eventually cannot sit idly by anymore while these men take advantage of innocent bystanders.
Huck faces several ethical decisions throughout the course of this book. We watch Huck’s growth from boyhood to manhood. Antiquated and racially offense terms are used throughout the book and topics of racial discrimination and slavery are discussed as it relates to the time period in the story.
We thought a fun project to do after this book would be to build a raft. The use of a raft for “escape” purposes is a common element in the book. The kids can use popsicile sticks to make a raft and try floating their raft in water. You can have the kids compare whose raft can hold more pennies or let them come up with the materials they want to use to make the raft with you providing specific measurements.
I think another, albeit, ambitious project depending on the child’s age would be to have your student pick a topic from current events that they are opposed to, similar to Huck’s feelings about slavery (although it is clear he is confused on his stance at times in the book). Have them write a paper or give a presentation on why what is happening is wrong and their proposal to solve the problem, i.e. standardized testing, elections, political parties, health insurance.
We found the movie on YouTube if you are interested in also watching it.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=488daFfZx-Y