Understanding Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

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Greenwood Publishing Group, 1996 - 246 pages

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 This collection of historical documents, collateral readings, and commentary captures the stormy character of the slave-holding frontier on the eve of war and highlights the legacy of past conflicts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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Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Forms of Enslavement
Censorship and Race
3 Mark Twains Mississippi Valley
4 Slavery Its Legacy and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
5 The Code of Honor
Shakespeare Home Decor Sentimental Verse

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Page 154 - There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory otherwise than in the punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted; Provided, always, That any person escaping into the same, from whom labor or service is lawfully claimed in any one of the original States, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed and conveyed to the person claiming his or her labor or service as aforesaid.
Page 154 - That in all that territory ceded by France to the United States, under the name of Louisiana, which lies north of thirtysix degrees and thirty minutes north latitude, not included within the limits of the State contemplated by this act, slavery and involuntary servitude, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes whereof the parties shall have been duly convicted, shall be and is hereby forever prohibited.
Page 156 - Constitution referred to, in conformity with the provisions of this act; and all good citizens are hereby commanded to aid and assist in the prompt and efficient execution of this law, whenever their services may be required...
Page 157 - ... shall be conclusive of the right of the person or persons in whose favor granted, to remove such fugitive to the State or Territory from which he escaped, and shall prevent all molestations of such person or persons by any process issued by any Court, Judge, Magistrate or other person whomsoever.
Page 10 - I didn't look at him at all. Jim throwed some old rags over him, but he needn't done it; I didn't want to see him. There was heaps of old greasy cards scattered around over the floor, and old whisky bottles, and a couple of masks made out of black cloth; and all over the walls . was the ignorantest kind of words and pictures, made with charcoal^ There was two old dirty calico dresses, and a sun-bonnet, and some women's under-clothes, hanging against the wall, and some men's clothing, too. We put...
Page 156 - That when a person held to service or labor in any State or Territory of the United States, has heretofore or shall hereafter escape into another State or Territory of the United States, the person or persons to whom such service or labor may be due, or his, her, or their agent or attorney...
Page 162 - Individual sovereignty is a part of the inalienable rights of man recited in the Declaration of Independence life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness ; and by liberty is always meant liberty conscious of the- rights of others.
Page 143 - My father was a white man. He was admitted to be such by all I ever heard speak of my parentage. The opinion was also whispered that my master was my father; but of the correctness of this opinion, I know nothing; the means of knowing was withheld from me.
Page 18 - And got to thinking over our trip down the river; and I see Jim before me, all the time, in the day, and in the night-time, sometimes moonlight, sometimes storms, and we a floating along, talking, and singing, and laughing.

References to this book

Alles über Huckleberry Finn
Mark Twain
No preview available - 2003

About the author (1996)

CLAUDIA DURST JOHNSON is Professor of English at the University of Alabama, where she chaired the Department of English for 12 years. She is series editor of the Greenwood Press Literature in Context series, which includes her works Understanding To Kill a Mockingbird (1994) and Understanding the Scarlet Letter (1995). She is also the author of To Kill a Mockingbird: Threatening Boundaries, (1994), The Productive Tension of Hawthorne's Art (1981), and American Actress: Perspectives on the Nineteenth Century (1984), and coauthor (with Vernon Johnson) of Memoirs of the Nineteenth-Century Theatre (Greenwood, 1982) and (with Henry Jacobs) An Annotated Bibliography of Shakespearean Burlesques, Parodies, and Travesties (1976), as well as numerous articles on American literature and theatre.

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