The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn takes place in the Pre-Civil War era and centers around the adventures of a young boy named, you guessed it, Huckleberry Finn. The adventures and craziness start when Huck decides to fake his own death and run away from home in order to escape his abusive fathers, leave behind his over protective guardians, and live his life as the free spirit that he is. Along the way, however, Huck runs into a runaway slave by the name of Jim who Huck knows from seeing him work on the farm that Huck used to live at. Jim and Huck team up and decide to journey together as fugitives from the law. Everything is fine and dandy for a while until Huck starts to have to deal with his conscience. He questions whether helping a slave run away is morally the right thing to do. In fact, Huck gets extremely close to turning Jim in on more than one occasion. Alas, Huck ends up become good friends with Jim and he realizes that he would never be able to turn Jim in and live with himself. The two of them go on many adventures together as they float down a river on a raft that they made. These adventures include anything and everything from dressing Huck up as a girl, getting seperated after their raft is wrecked by a boat, and running into a couple of con artists. In the end though, everything in the story turns out okay, although you might want to read the book yourself instead of taking my word for it because we never actually finished reading the book in class anyway...

Description of Major Characters

Huck Finn- Narator and main character of the novel. He's the boy who runs away and has all of the adventures, hence the name of the book, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Pap- Huck's abusive father. Pap is nothing but a drunk who ends up getting himself killed by some guys, most likely after he cheated at a game of cards. (Or at least that's what the movie says) Also, kidnaps Huck and locks him in a cabin in the forest. (This is where Huck fakes his death and runs away from)

Jim- Runaway slave who meets up with Huck and later becomes really good friends with him. Jim earns his freedom at the end of the book.

Tom Sawyer- The romanticist of the story, and also Huck's best friend. Tom is always getting into trouble and creating devious little plans that always have to "go by the book."

Miss Watson- Sister of the Widow Douglas and strict caretaker of Huck. She makes Huck learn and study hard in order to have somewhat of an education. She is also very strict in her beliefs and often tells Huck that he is going to go to hell. Obviously, Huck doesn't care for Miss Watson too much.

The Widow Douglas- Sister of Miss Watson and gentler caretaker of Huck. The Widow Douglas has more patience with mischievous Huck and therefore, Huck favors her over her less amable sister.

The Grangerfords- Crazy family that Huck lives with for a while after he and Jim get separated. In the end, they all die because of a lethal feud with another family. (It's strangley remniscent of Romeo and Juliet...)

The Duke and The King- Crazy con artists who mooch off of Huck and Jim and turn Jim in for the reward money.


My biggest pet peeve about this book is the way Huck uses the phrase "by and by" on every page, all the time, continuously. It's everywhere. you can't barely get through one paragraph without hearing Huck say"By and by this" or "By and by that." It's aggravating! If this book uses the "N" word 213 times, then it must use the phrase "by and by" 2, 213 times! The dialogue confused me a lot too. It took me 15 minutes just to read one paragraph when Jim was talking because it was so hard to read and understand what he was saying. However, I liked the little tid bits of humor throughout the book (You can have Miss Watson! Take her!) and the way that there was a new adventure in every chapter. This book wasn't really as boring of a read as I thought it would be. Now if someone could just remove some of those stinkin' "by and by" phrases...=)


What can we learn from reading this book?

We can actually learn a lot from reading this book. Huck Finn teaches us to one, follow your dreams because life is a journey, not a destination. Huck does a good job of being a free spirit and following what he wants to do. This novel also teaches us that being human is not based on the color of your skin, but rather on the person that you are. This is a huge concept that is portrayed all throughout the book through the use of Huck and Jim becoming friends, regardless of the different colors of their skin. This book teaches us a lot of things, so many in fact that I'm at a loss for words so I think I'll leave you to ponder the examples I just offered up in the sentences above...

Essential Questions

1.) What role does society play in shaping who we are?

Society plays a major role in shaping who we are, actually. Depending on how much money you have, how pretty you are, how well you play a sport, or even something as simple as the color of your skin sets automatic judgements about the kind of person you are and the role you are destined to play in the society. Society dictates that celebrities are skinny and beautiful and perfect, black people are the only people who are allowed to be rappers and listen to hip hop music without being made fun of, etc. etc. etc. People listen to all these crazy and ridiculous laws and notions that our society lays down, and they allow it to shape who they are. Of course, there's things like laws that shape people, too. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, for example, if you born an African American, you were born a slave. At times, I think society plays too big of a role in shaping who we are.

2.) What does freedom mean to you?

To me, freedom means being able to be who you really are (not someone you try to be) and do what you want to do (as long as it doesn't involve murder, drugs, etc.) without being prosecuted, judged, or singled out for it. And when you look at the world and the people who inhabit it, and then you look at what I just wrote, a lot of people aren't free. I mean sure, there's people who are legally free because the constitution of the United States says so, but they are still discriminated against, which makes them un-free. Even though the U.S.A. says all of its citizens have freedom, I often question whether or not that's really true. According to, the definition of freedom is "exemption from external control, interference, regulation...the power to determine action without restraint...etc." And, looking at this definition, the school sure does take away a lot of our freedom. Perhaps it's for our own good as students. Or perhaps it's all a plot to control the world by breaking us down and stealing our freedom one by one...But I guess for the sake of me getting a good grade on this assignment I'll go with the first reason...*sigh*

3.) How do you go about making important decisions?

Well if I have to make an important decision on a split-second basis, I use my gut feeling and do what feels right. However, If I have time to make a decision, I discuss it with my mom and pray and think about what I'm going to do. Often, my mom is of no help at all because when it comes to making important decisions, that's something you have to do on your own. That's why I like to have a suffcient amount of time to think about what I plan to do before I actually choose to do it.

4.) What does Huck Finn teach us about what it means to be human?

Huck Finn teaches us that to be human, one must be treated as an indivdual equal to that of yourself. If someone is treated as anything less than that, then they are being nothing less thatn dehumanized. People are not possesions. They're not property. People are just that- PEOPLE. Regardless of what color your skin is or what country you are from, a person is a person is a person is a person. Being human is based on who you are. It's not based on what you look like, or on what you sound like, and definitely not on what the color of your skin is. If I do say so myself, Huck Finn does a pretty good job of teaching this concept.

Huck and Jim on the raft