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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn discussion guide: Home

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Mark Twain

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Discussion Questions

  1. In his introduction, John Seelye notes that the premise of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is highly unrealistic (p. xiii). Is it? If so, how might that affect one’s reading of the novel? Does it matter?

  2. Can Huck—who chafes at being “sivilized” and indeed questions any rule or orthodoxy from church to good manners—be said to have a belief system? How do his beliefs, and his understanding of them, evolve over the course of his adventures?

  3. Tom accuses Huck of being “ignorant,” and Huck clearly feels his own “wickedness” and lack of education, especially compared to his friend, who is “well brung up.” What does Huck have that Tom does not?

  4. Why does the practical-minded Huck admire Tom’s way of doing things? How is Tom’s influence felt even when he is not present? Why does Huck see through the duke and the king immediately but still trust Tom? What might he have learned from his time with the two “frauds” about jokes and tricks?

  5. When Huck and Tom plot to help Jim escape from the Phelpses, they have not only different ideas of how to bring about the release but also different motives. How are they different and what do they tell us about each boy?

  6. How can we characterize the relationship between Huck and Jim? Does Huck ever view Jim as an equal, and vice versa?

  7. Why does Jim not tell Huck about his father? Is this comparable to Tom’s withholding the information that Jim has been freed?

  8. What is the point of the “Notice” at the beginning of the book? Is it a challenge to the reader? Despite its warning, can we say that the novel indeed has a “plot,” a “motive,” and a “moral (questions from Penguin Randomhouse)