Understanding Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn

Overview

Since the time of its publication in 1884, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has generated heated controversy. One of the most frequently banned books in the history of literature, it raises issues of race relations, censorship, civil disobedience, and adolescent group psychology as relevant today as they were in the 1880s. This collection of historical documents, collateral readings, and commentary captures the stormy character of the slave-holding frontier on the eve of war and highlights the legacy of past ...

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Overview

Since the time of its publication in 1884, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has generated heated controversy. One of the most frequently banned books in the history of literature, it raises issues of race relations, censorship, civil disobedience, and adolescent group psychology as relevant today as they were in the 1880s. This collection of historical documents, collateral readings, and commentary captures the stormy character of the slave-holding frontier on the eve of war and highlights the legacy of past conflicts in contemporary society. Among the source materials presented are: memoirs of fugitive slaves, a river gambler, a gunman, and Mississippi Valley settlers; the Southern Code of Honor; rules of dueling; and an interview with a 1990s gang member.

These materials will promote interdisciplinary study of the novel and enrich the student's understanding of the issues raised. The work begins with a literary analysis of the novel's structure, language, and major themes and examines its censorship history, including recent cases linked to questions of race and language. A chapter on censorship and race offers a variety of opposing contemporary views on these issues as depicted in the novel. The memoirs in the chapter Mark Twain's Mississippi Valley illuminate the novel's pastoral view of nature in conflict with a violent civilization resting on the institution of slavery and shaped by the genteel code of honor. Slavery, Its Legacy, and Huck Finn features 19th-century pro-slavery arguments, firsthand accounts of slavery, the text of the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, and opposing views on civil disobedience from such 19th- and 20th-century Americans as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Stephen A. Douglas, and William Sloane Coffin. Nineteenth-century commentators on the Southern Code of Honor and Twain's sentimental cultural satire directly relate the novel to the social and cultural milieu in which it was written. Each chapter closes with study questions, student project ideas, and sources for further reading on the topic. This is an ideal companion for teacher use and student research in English and American history courses.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up-Although this guide opens with the expected literary analysis, it quickly expands its scope with discussions of censorship, racism, and life in Mark Twain's America. Each chapter is supported by documents and readings that add to the understanding of the novel's complex social and political issues. While the narrative is well written, it will prove challenging for less sophisticated students, and some of the source material, such as the complicated Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 and the biblically oriented writings of Thomas Nelson Page, will put off many. Yet, Johnson balances the 19th-century topics with contemporary counterparts whenever possible; for example, a 1995 interview with a former gang member complements the section on codes of honor in Twain's time. Suggestions for projects, classroom discussions, and additional reading follow each chapter. A valuable resource for teachers and serious students.-Pat Katka, formerly at San Diego Public Library
Booknews
A collection of historical documents, collateral readings, and commentary designed to promote interdisciplinary study of Twain's controversial novel. Selections by fugitive salves, a riverboat gambler, and Mississippi Valley settlers offer insight on the slave- holding frontier and highlight the legacy of slavery and other societal conflicts. Other materials include a Southern code of honor, rules of dueling, contemporary viewpoints on censorship and race in the novel, and a 1990s interview with a former gang member. Includes study questions and topics for discussion and research papers. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

CLAUDIA DURST JOHNSON is Professor of English at the University of Alabama, where she chaired the Department of English for 12 years.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
1 Literary Analysis: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Forms of Enslavement 1
2 Unfit for Children: Censorship and Race 29
From John H. Wallace, "The Case Against Huck Finn" In Satire Or Evasion? 39
From Julius Lester, " Morality and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", in Satire Or Evasion? 39
From David L. Smith, "Huck, Jim, and Racial Discourse", in Satire Or Evasion? 40
From Kenney J. Williams, "Mark Twain's Racial Ambiguity", in Satire Or Evasion? 41
From Kenneth B. Noble, "One Hateful Word" 43
From William Raspberry, "We Give This Slur Its Power" 43
3 Mark Twain's Mississippi Valley 47
From David P. Dyer, Autobiography and Reminiscences 77
From Tom Horn, the Life of Tom Horn 82
From James W. Evans and A. Wendell Keith, Autobiography of Samuel S. Hildebrand 88
From Harriet Martineau, Retrospect of Western Travel 90
From Frederick Gerstaecker, Wild Sports in the Far West 94
From George H. Devol, Forty Years a Gambler on the Mississippi 96
4 Slavery, Its Legacy, and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 105
From Thomas Roderick Dew, "Abolition of Negro Slavery," In The Pro-Slavery Argument 131
From James Henry Hammond, "Letter to an English Abolitionist", in The Pro-Slavery Argument 132
From W. G. Brownlow, Ought American Slavery to Be Perpetuated? 134
From Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass 140
From Harriet A. Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl 143
From David P. Dyer, Autobiography and Reminiscences 146
From the Missouri Compromise of 1820 151
From the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 153
From Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The Fugitive Slave Law", in the Complete Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson 157
From William Hosmer, the Higher Law 158
From Stephen A. Douglas, "Measures of Adjustment" 160
From Orville Dewey, The Laws of Human Progress and Modern Reforms 161
From Harriet Jacobs, "The Fugitive Slave Law", in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl 163
From William Sloane Coffin, Jr., "Civil Disobedience, the Draft and the War" 164
From George Washington Cable, "The Freedman's Case in Equity and the Convict Lease System", in The Silent South 168
5 The Code of Honor 177
From Thomas Nelson Page, The Old South 186
From John Lyde Wilson, The Code of Honor 189
From Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi 192
From Larry Watts, "The Code of the Streets: An Interview with a Former Gang Member 200
From Elijah Anderson, "The Code of the Streets" 218
6 Cultural Satire: Shakespeare, Home Decor, Sentimental Verse 223
From George C. D. Odell, Annals of the New York Stage 227
From Parodies of the Works of English and American Authors 228
From J. R. Puch, "The Best Room" 231
From Julia A. Moore, The Sentimental Song Book 236
From Max Adeler, Out of the Hurly-burly 239
Index 243
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