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Posts Tagged ‘Mark Twain’

In Huckleberry Finn I thought it was interesting how people were so open to strangers. Like how the Widow took Huckleberry Finn in just because she felt sorry for him. If that had happened in this era, most likely people would have just let him be, or put him into foster care. Another time people were open to strangers was when Huckleberry was disguised as a girl and he walked into a random house. That would not have worked now in this time usually you would call ahead or something like that. There were other parts that I thought were interesting but I thought that this was one of the most interesting.

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Overall I thought that Huckleberry Finn was ok, but not the best book I’ve ever read. At times I found myself skimming over particularly slow and hard to follow spots. Also, the fact the author purposely used poor grammar made it increasingly harder to read. But, it was not without its laughs. I admired Tom for being so loyal to his books, but I also thought they made his plans very slow and harder to execute than the plan Huck came up with. Finally, I think that I may not understand the book very well right now, but I’m sure when I’m a adult and read the book again like I promised Ms. Poulson I’ll enjoy it a lot more.

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2014 Literature Circle 7th grade

My email is rebecca_poulson@hotmail.com, phone 747-3448

Here is this handout as a pdf.

Tentative schedule: This week (October 10th) get the book Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and read chapters 1-16, research something about the background of the book, sticky-note a passage that sticks out to you.

Next week we’ll share the background research and discuss the part of the book we’ve read. The assignment will be to write a paragraph, from the discussion or your own thoughts, and read the middle third of the book.

Week 3 Share our paragraphs, discuss what we read, and assignment will be the same as before, a paragraph and read the rest of the book.

Week 4 Talk about the whole book, and the task will be to write a one-page essay on a topic of your choice, but I’ll suggest taking a particular incident and telling how you believe it fits into the book.

Week 5 We’ll share these, and the task will be to edit and post, and start next book.

We’ll play it by ear, not to overload anybody but make it interesting.

The other books (this can also change):

Boy by Roald Dahl
Call of the Wild (also a Battle book)
Haa Shuka (classic Tlingit oral literature)
Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Jane Eyre
Great Expectations
Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
great short stories, American and English
Frankenstein
Hamlet
Kidnapped

Kidnapped, Hamlet, and Frankenstein we don’t have copies of, but I’m looking at your being able to buy through the bookstore (they are pretty cheap).

So jumping right into 1840s small town Missouri, in the opening chapter of Huckleberry Finn, probably won’t make a lot of sense. There are a lot of books where you just have to move on, keep reading. Especially if this is one of the first books you’ve read from the 1800s, you’ll have to read a few before you get a sense of not only the language but the customs and objects we don’t have any more.

There are some great Modern novels, like Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, which opens from the point of a view of a severely mentally challenged man (who’s also going back and forth in his memory), or James Joyce’s Ulysses, or Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon, which don’t make a lot of sense when you first read them – and that’s part of what the book is, opening up space for our participation.

The main thing with literature is that there is no One Right Answer or response. These are all great books because there is so much to encounter, so many levels and ways they can resonate with your life and thoughts. They all have flaws and you don’t have to like them. And, they will be different when you read them as an adult, probably better.

So don’t worry. Jump on in and enjoy.

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October 17 2014 Literature Circle 7th grade #2

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Click here for this material as a pdf file: 2 Huck handout 2

You can’t get around Mark Twain’s use of the N-word. Here is an interesting article about how one teacher approached the topic in her classroom.

Rebecca_poulson@hotmail.com 747-3448

This week, read chapters 17-30, and write a paragraph, based on the discussion or your own ideas. Mark parts (by noting page numbers in your notebook) that stand out.

Discussion: today we shared our research into:

Mark Twain’s biography and dates

Jim Crow laws

The Civil War (overview, dates)

history of banning of the book

log rafts and steamboats – economy of the Mississippi River in 1840

slavery in the American south before the Civil War

a map of the Mississippi River from around this time – it can be a print out or in a book or hand drawn – from Hannibal, Missouri to the Louisiana border

the picaresque novel – what it is, some examples

what kind of clothes did people wear in that place and time (Mississippi River around 1840)

public education in this place and time

Then we went briefly over the action so far, though I thought we had 20 minutes more than we really did.

Things in the book, some things we talked about:

What a bloody cataclysm the Civil War was, and the assassination of Lincoln, how the Civil War and the abolition of slavery might have affected Mark Twain’s view of antebellum (pre-Civil War) south of his youth

1840 a time of westward growth for the US

How some people were ok with slavery

Tom’s fantasies – Tom is considered “smart” and seems to be rich compared to others in the town, but seems kind of dangerous

Huck’s intelligence – he is a very skilled liar, and faking his own death is expertly done, but considers himself less intelligent than Tom Sawyer

being free on the river – how easy it must have been to “borrow” food, easy to live

The author does not seem to think much of Christians trying to reform others

Already twice Huck’s been nearly killed

Rank some of the characters on a scale of good to evil – is his father just a loser? or evil? the robbers? Miss Watson?

How the woman he tries to fool into thinking he’s a girl sees through it, but then makes up her own story for him

Already Huck’s played several mean tricks on Jim

Huck’s and Jim’s superstitions

The book is a picaresque novel, where the action is a series of adventures as the hero moves through space and time. One thing we might write about, after we finish reading the book, is how a particular adventure fits into the book.

For the middle third of the book, all of the above and:

Are some parts just for humor, to lighten it up, and not part of the overall thrust of the book?

Death – tally up the people Huck sees die, and the deaths that occur he doesn’t witness

Lies

Foolishness

Evil and cruelty

Conscience/morality – how Huck is developing, or is he.

Goodness

The places, societies, worlds? of each adventure

How does this section compare to the first

Women

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October 10 2014 Literature Circle 7th grade #1

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Click here for this material as a pdf file: 1 Huck handout 1.

This week, read chapters 1-16 – which is a third of the book. We can see if that’s too much, or about right – it’s 110 pages in my edition.

As you’re reading, use sticky notes to mark passages that stand out to you, whether because they are strong, or make you feel uncomfortable, or whatever. You can mark a few then pick the one you want to talk about.

Also, look up at least one new word and bring that in.

For next time, each person will do a little bit of research into one of the following topics (we’ll assign each person one). It does not have to be in depth, just a little to informally share with the group.

Mark Twain’s biography and dates

Jim Crow laws

The Civil War (overview, dates)

history of banning of the book

log rafts and steamboats – economy of the Mississippi River in 1840

slavery in the American south before the Civil War

bring in a map of the Mississippi River from around this time – it can be a print out or in a book or hand drawn – from Hannibal, Missouri to the Louisiana border

the picaresque novel – what it is, some examples

what kind of clothes did people wear in that place and time (Mississippi River around 1840) – if you can, bring in a book or a print out, or just describe

public education in this place and time

A few things you might notice, after you read the first part of the book:

Is Tom a psycho or what? How his fantasies of life-and-death adventures relate to Huck’s real ones

Huck’s ignorance, innocence, and intelligence

Being free on the river

Systems of belief – Christianity, superstition, Tom’s fantasy life, Huck’s

The Author’s attitude toward the various characters

Playing the trick on Jim, and the description of slave society: does it feel affectionate, or just yucky?

Huck’s knowledge of the river and the environment and his practical abilities

Excitement and danger – how does the author make things thrilling

What does Huck want/need?

How do you think it would feel to read this book if your ancestors had been slaves?

How is the way Huck is treated in the book compare to Jim’s treatment (as a character). Huck grows and changes – could Jim? Does Huck seem believable? Any of the other characters?

Notice how the author is using characters, landscape and incident to create a whole

How important are relationships in this book?

The way characters are fleshed out, the way they interact, the way relationships change (or not).

Huck’s innocent morality, compared to the morals of others in the book

The book is a picaresque novel, where the action is a series of adventures as the hero moves through space and time. One thing we might write about, after we finish reading the book, is how a particular adventure fits into the book.

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