Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

  • Documented Essay Preparation

Essential Questions

  • Is HF a racist or offensive novel?
  • Are high school students prepared to deal with the content of the novel? Why or Why Not?
  • Should it remain on the required reading list at Issaquah High School?

Huck Finn Supplemental Reading Packet

  • Highlight in 3 colors and annotate (at least 2 comments on each page):
  • 1) Support for the reading of HF in schools
  • 2) Opposition to the novel
  • 3) Historical Relevance & Twain’s Background: personal history, cultural viewpoints, facts that reinforce Twain’s goals as a writer.
  • Due Wednesday, January 8th


  • Minstrel: one of a troupe of comedians, usually white men made up as black performers, presenting songs, jokes, etc.
  • Static: lacking movement, development, or vitality: The novel was marred by static characterizations, especially in its central figures.
  • A stock character is a fictional character that relies heavily on cultural types or stereotypes for its personality, manner of speech, and other characteristics. Stock characters make easy targets for parody, and the parody will likely exaggerate any stereotypes associated with these characters.
  • Caricature: a picture, description, etc., ludicrously exaggerating the peculiarities or defects of persons or things.

Personal Reflection & Discussion Questions

  • Reflect on your experiences with judgment, discrimination, and racism.
  • Questions:
  • 1) How do issues surrounding race and cultural differences affect students at Issaquah High School?
  • 2) Can Huck Finn positively affect students? In what ways?
  • 3) What issues present the potential for negative effects? Why?
  • 4) Are 11th graders prepared to handle the content of the novel, and if so, how will the novel promote growth?

Preparation for Huck Finn Essay

  • Everything’s an Argument:
    • Review Chapter 5 – “Rhetorical Analysis”
    • Chapter 7 – “Structuring Arguments”
          • Toulmin Model (132-146)
    • Qualifiers, p. 142
    • Conditions of Rebuttal, p. 143
    • Chapter 13 – Style in Arguments, 309-325
    • Chapter 21 – Documenting Sources, 446-464

The Power of Literature: Should Adventures of Huckleberry Finn be censored?

  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain should be required reading in 11th grade American Literature classes at Issaquah High School.
  • Write a carefully reasoned argument that defends, challenges, or qualifies the above statement. One of the major issues is the “required” nature of the text. This means that teachers are required to include direct instruction of Huck Finn in their curriculum. Also, keep in mind that the statement is focused on Issaquah High School. Although Adventures of Huckleberry Finn will be your central text, you are expected to use the source materials provided in the packet “The Controversy: Analysis, Opinion and Other Source Materials.”

Hints and Essay Guidelines:

  • Don’t make your mind up about the book’s importance right away. The support materials are more intriguing if you read them with an open mind.
  • Start with a concession paragraph. Present one paragraph in the essay that addresses the concerns of the other side. Consider what you think is the BEST argument of those who disagree with you. You will explain what that argument is and then use your best evidence against that argument.
  • Watch your paragraph length. No paragraph should exceed 1 ¼ pages in length. Divide your ideas into multiple paragraphs if necessary. Write body thesis statements and then topic sentences to accomplish this. I expect to see 3-4 body thesis statements (including concession BT).
  • Diversify your use of quotations and sources to bolter support for your opinion. Use a variety of formats with your quotations–both integrated into sentences and framed by lead-in sentences (introduced with a colon).

Thesis /Method and Essay Outline

  • Due Wednesday, January 8h
  • Bring Supplemental Reading Packet. Bring to class on Friday.
  • Due Friday, January 10th
  • Thesis and Method Statements: craft an opinionated, compelling claim, followed by a method statement that outlines topics for 3-4 body paragraph.
  • Begin working on Outline:
  • 3-4 body paragraphs
  • 3 CDs for each paragraph with properly formatted
  • in-text citations

Shaping Paragraph: Outline of Concrete Details and Commentary

  • Due Wednesday, January 15th
  • Include thesis and method statements
  • Choose one paragraph to outline (three chunks/citations)
  • Must include Works Cited (including entry for your copy of Huck Finn)
  • MLA Format:
    • Properly formatted in-text citations
    • Double spaced with 1 inch margins

Concession Paragraph

  • Select strongest cds from the other side
  • Commentary:
    • First, explain the other side’s perspective (acknowledge the perspective)
    • Then, explain why it is inaccurate/biased/limited
  • Well-crafted concession:
    • Henry (characterizations of Jim )

Example – No Refutation

  • Body Thesis: Critics claim that the novel promotes racism and is offensive to African Americans, which leads some to believe it should not be used in schools.
  • CD: “Classic or not, it should not be allowed to continue to cause our [black] children embarrassment about their heritage” (John Wallace qtd. in Cooley 310).
  • CM: Public schooling should cover materials to educate students without threat.
  • CM: Every individual should remain proud of who he is when confronted with the materials presented in school, but Huck Finn does not allow that.

Example – Good Refutation

  • CD: “No matter how often the critics ‘place in context’ Huck’s use of the word ‘nigger,’ they can never excuse or fully hide the deeper racism of the novel” (Smiley 64).
  • CM: The repeated epithet is said to unquestioningly prove the classic’s racist ideals, although quite often the same epithet is used without offensive connotation.
  • CM: Offended readers are quick to assume the epithet is used with traditionally insulting intentions and fail to acknowledge how the historical context of the word impacts its meaning in the classroom..

Refutation Words/Phrases

  • Although…, most often…
  • One might argue…, however…
  • Despite…, one should consider…
  • Perhaps…, rarely…
  • Under certain conditions…, yet…
  • Some assert…, yet in reality…
  • In some cases…, it may prove…
  • It is possible…, yet few/most/many…
  • It is understandable…, yet sometimes/often…

Paper Guidelines:

  • Sources: minimum use of 5 sources, including Huck Finn (which you must cite in the paper). Length: 4-5 pages, double-spaced.
  • Citations: Because you are using multiple sources, every concrete detail must be completely cited (including author’s name when not included in the cd’s lead-in). Please review information provided in Everything’s an Argument, Chapter 20 concerning in-text citations.
  • Format: according to MLA guidelines (including creative title and heading), with a Works Cited page. This page should be easy to create since I have already written up Works Complied entries for everything but The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
  • Voice/Language: Use a formal voice throughout the essay. Use only third person voice and avoid inappropriate word choice (contractions, “things,” to be verbs, “there is” sentence construction, etc.). “Negro” and “colored” are not appropriate – use “epithet.” Avoid “quote” or “quotation.”

Using Concrete Details

  • Do not capitalize the first word of a quote when integrating phrases into your own sentence. Change words when necessary: “my” to “his.”
  • Consider the value of using PRIMARY vs. SECONDARY sources. Don’t use the critics quoting Huck Finn – find cds from the actual novel.
  • It’s easier to present your interpretation & analysis instead of borrowing critics’ perspectives.
  • Diversify your use of quotations and sources to bolster support for your opinion. Use a variety of formats with your quotations – both integrated into sentences and separated by colons.

In-Text Citation Tips

  • Indirect Source Citations: Citations tell who wrote/made the statement. If the writer is using another’s opinion/ statement/etc.,you MUST use the indirect source format for the in-text citation.
    • Think about when to include the speaker/writer’s name in the lead-in. Do it for EFFECT only. Provide the full name and relevant credentials of the speaker.
  • Indirect Source Citations (no name in lead-in):
    • (David Bradley qtd. in “Huck” 133).
    • (Jocelyn Chadwick-Joshua qtd. in “Born”).
    • (Kevin Drum qtd. in Powers).
    • If the name of author (or speaker with indirect quotes) is provided in the lead-in, omit it from the citation (qtd. in Powers).
  • Include page numbers with print sources only and none with internet-based sources.

Citing Indirect Sources – Format Options

  • Remember to use TRIPLE QUOTATION MARKS.
      • If you include the name of the person who made the statement in the lead-in, use (qtd. in “Huck Continued”).
      • Twain once defined a classic as “’a book which people praise and don’t read,’” yet that scenario has not been the case with Huck Finn (qtd. in Kaplan).
      • If you use the indirect quotation without naming the original source, include the full name in the citation:
      • Silas Marner, Billy Budd, The Confidence Man: all classics, all books “’which people praise and don’t read’” (Mark Twain qtd. in Kaplan).

Conventions and Tips

  • Italicize the novel’s title
  • Use Huck Finn for the title after using Adventures of Huckleberry Finn once (in the thesis)
  • Capitalize South (a region); no caps when used as an adjective (southern)
  • Place commas inside quotation marks
  • First & last name the first time a person is mentioned, just the last name EVERY TIME after (even with Twain)
  • Huck faces battles with his conscience, not his conscious
  • Creative terms for the novel and main characters (Huck and Jim) needed
  • Craft interesting, specific, and fluent lead-ins

Body Paragraphs

  • Consistently make connections to the topic of students and required reading. Consider what benefits or effects they would be receiving, and deal with it CONSISTENTLY throughout the essay.
    • If a critic says the book allows discussion about racism, don't just agree and say that the book invites conversation into the classroom.
    • EXPLAIN how this would work, describe the nature of the conversation, & clarify why students benefit from it.
    • If the critic says Jim is stereotyped, give an example (NOT from the critic) of when this happens in the novel. This is not something quoted from Twain—it is your analysis of the novel. Figure out where the critic’s idea is supported.
  • .

Body Paragraphs

  • Commentaries can be as many sentences as needed; deal with one concept thoroughly
    • Concession: 1. concede the point/explain its perspective; 2. refute the concept/explain your perspective
    • Body Paragraphs 2-3: 1. explain & EXTEND the key ideas from the cd – DO NOT paraphrase; 2. connect the “chunk” to the body thesis – one of the best ways is through dealing with students and the book’s advantages or disadvantages
  • Vague and General vs. Specific
    • Huck Finn should be a primary source
    • Historical Accuracy: Give examples from novel
    • Satire: Give examples from novel.
    • Life Lessons/Benefits: Provide specific benefits and lessons

Persuasive Impact

  • Write insightful, thought-provoking commentary: vivid verbs, adjectives, adverbs and interesting, sophisticated syntax.
    • Reinforce thesis throughout, esp. in body thesis & concluding sentences: required reading, relevance to IHS juniors, other key phrases from thesis. Use “students” instead of “readers.”
  • Make sure Body Thesis statements clearly flow from the method – they should be more specific than the phrases from the method.

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