Adventures of Huckleberry FinnEssay Topics
1. 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?
2. 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? What overall comment or comments does Twain make about family and society?
3. 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?
4. 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? Couldn’t he have just as easily set it in 1885?
5. Many readers of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn consider the ending flawed—while others have praised it. Write an essay on the appropriateness of the novel’s ending, focusing on Huck’s treatment of Jim and Huck’s moral complicity with Tom.
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? How does Tom’s behavior comment on society in some larger way?
Three pages minimum. Anything less than three pages will automatically receive a 50% deduction.