Chapters 1-5 Huckleberry Finn Study Guide

Why did Twain choose a young boy as the narrator for the novel? Twain uses Huck’s comments as an innocent and truthful criticism of society. He isn’t fully brainwashed by society’s norms yet.
Name some major themes of the novel (Seen from the beginning so far) 1) Individual Freedom- Huck searches for freedom from the constraints of a corrupt society, and Jim searches for freedom from slavery.2) Racism/slavery- Written after slaves were freed but the events in the book take place a few decades before. Twain depicts the evils of slavery as it corrupts both the oppressed and the oppressors. Evident in Pap whose backwards attitude leaves him drunk and helpless.3) Morality- Huck is constantly stuck in situations where he debates whether he should do what is convenient or what is morally right. Huck feels guilty for helping Jim gain his freedom because of Miss Watson did so much food for him, but Jim is his friend.4) Hypocrisy of Society- Twain depicts civilized society as anything but. Twain suggests that as long as slavery and racism exists, a society cannot be just. During the journey, we come across seemingly good people, but they own slaves. Through Sherburn’s speech, Twain suggests that society is selfish and cowardly.
Give examples of superstition in Chapter 1 Huck accidentally flips a spider into a candle and kills it. He is sure it will bring him bad luck.
What do the Widow Douglas and Miss Watson try to teach Huck in order to civilize him? They teach him proper dress, proper manners, and regular Bible reading.
What does Huck think about religion–specifically the good place, the bad place and prayer? Huck doesn’t believe in formal religion. If the “good place” is going to be boring, he doesn’t want to go there. If his friends go to the “bad place”, that is where he wants to go. Huck “don’t take no stock” in prayer since it doesn’t seem to do him any immediate good.
What did the slaves do before they went to bed at night? They came into the house for prayers.
Who gave the catcall after midnight to get Huck’s attention? Tom Sawyer
Where does Tom take Huck and the gang? Tom takes them to the cave through the hole that he had discovered earlier.
What does Jim think has happened when he finds his hat hanging in the tree? He thinks that he has been ridden around the world by witches.
When Tom’s gang tries to rob the rich “Spaniards” and “A-rabs,” who do they actually rob? They try to rob a Sunday school picnic. To their humiliation, it is a primer class filled with very young children.
Where does Tom get his ideas for robbing and killing people? He gets them from the books he reads. One of those books is Don Quixote.
If anyone reveals the secrets of the gang, the boy and his family must be killed. Whom does Huck offer as his family to be killed? Huck offers Miss Watson because he would rather give her up than anyone else.
Contrast the personalities of Huck and Tom Huck is literal-minded, realistic, and practical, but Tom is romantic and imaginative.
What purpose does the Mississippi River serve in the novel? Acts as a symbolic setting in the novel, representing an idyllic escape from the corruption of society.
How wide is the river in this chapter? About a mile wide, which gives it a majestic power.
How does Huck feel about school in these chapters? At first he hated school, but as time went on it became easier and he actually began to like it.
How does Huck know his pap is back in town? He sees his footprints in the snow. Pap has a unique cross in his left boot heel to ward off the devil.
Why is Huck in a big hurry to give Judge Thatcher his money? He heels that if he gets rid of his money, Pap will leave him alone.
Huck consults Jim about his father. What does he want to know? Jim relies on his hairball to work magic. Huck wants to know about his father, but the hairball wavers back and forth giving him opposing answers.
How does Pap feel about Huck’s ability to read and write? Pap is jealous of his son. He does not want his son to be better than he is, nor to put on “airs”
Who goes to court to gain custody of Huck?Is it successful? Judge Thatcher and Widow Douglas want to court to take Huck away from his father. They want to save Huck from his father’s abuse. It is sadly unsuccessful.
Who takes Pap into their house in an attempt to reform him? The new judge and his wife give him their spare room, food to eat, and new clothes to wear.
Does Pap turn over a new leaf as he says he will? Explain. No. He sneaks out in the middle of the night, exchanges his coat for whiskey, gets drunk, and breaks his arm.
What is Twain’s commentary on superstition in Chapter 4? Twain is subtly satirizing superstition in this chapter, particularly in the hairball incident. It is obvious neither the hairballs’ spirit nor Jim are sure of anything since one answer is consistently contradicted with the opposite answer following it.
Chapter 1 Mini Summary Huck Finn introduces himself as a character who has already appeared in Mark Twain’s earlier novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. He briefly reviews the end of Tom Sawyer’s story, reminding the reader how he and Tom found money that robbers had hidden in a cave. Judge Thatcher has invested the money for them, six thousand dollars apiece in gold, and the interest alone is now worth a dollar a day, a large amount of money at that time. The Widow Douglas has taken Huck in as her son, and is trying to civilize him by teaching him proper dress and proper manners. To make matters worse, the Widow’s sister, Miss Watson, lives with her and relentlessly nags Huck about his behavior. Huck is lonely and discouraged despite the Widow Douglas’ efforts to give him a good home. He accidentally kills a spider and is sure it will bring him bad luck. Soon after the clock strikes midnight, Huck sneaks out of his upstairs bedroom window to answer Tom Sawyer’s mysterious call.
Chapter 2 and 3 Mini Summary As Huck and Tom Sawyer tiptoe through the garden, Huck stumbles over a root, which gets the attention of Jim, Miss Watson’s slave. He calls out, but the boys, afraid of being caught sneaking out at night, become extremely quiet. Jim sits down between them but falls asleep before he is aware that they are near enough to touch. Tom cannot resist the temptation to play a trick on Jim. He hangs Jim’s hat in the tree, knowing that Jim will wonder how it got there. The next day, seeing his hat in the tree, Jim conjures up stories about witches and how they rode him around the world. He is proud of this and consequently the envy of all the other slaves in the neighborhood. Having sneaked out, Huck and Tom meet Joe Harper, Ben Rogers, and the other members of Tom’s “band of robbers.” Tom Sawyer’s gang is patterned after the “pirate books,” and “robber books” that he has read. They take a skiff down the Mississippi River for several miles to explore the cave that Tom has found earlier. As they organize their gang, the boys take an oath to keep the gang a secret, signing their names in blood. If anyone tells the secret, that boy and his family must be killed. Tom sets the rules. They will become masked highwaymen, stopping stages and carriages, killing the people on board and robbing them of their possessions. Tom wants to kidnap people for ransom, but neither he nor the other boys know what “ransom” means. When Huck returns early in the morning, his clothes are very dirty, and he receives a scolding from Miss Watson. There is news in town about a drowned body found up the river. Most people think it is Huck’s father, but Huck is sure that it is not. The boys play robbers for a month but soon tire of it, since they haven’t killed anyone. Furthermore, Tom’s “Spaniards” and “A-rabs” with hundreds of elephants, camels, and mules, loaded down with diamonds, turn out to be only a Sunday school picnic. Tom blames the incident on magicians who have, with the help of genies, changed the Spaniard and A-rab scene into a Sunday school picnic, but Huck feels it is only “one of Tom Sawyer’s lies.”
Chapter 4 and 5 Mini Summary Huck has been going to school for about three or four months and has learned to read and write. Although he plays “hooky” occasionally, he is learning to tolerate school. He is also becoming more comfortable living with the widow. Huck has almost forgotten his father until one day he sees his footprints in the snow. Pap’s boot heel has left the imprint of a cross made of nails, used to ward off the devil. Afraid his father has come for his money, Huck wastes no time getting to Judge Thatcher’s whom he begs to take the six thousand dollars and one hundred fifty dollars interest. The judge, surprised and puzzled, finally buys the “property” from him for a dollar. Huck then consults Jim, who relies on his hairball from the stomach of an ox to tell Huck’s fortune. Jim listens while the hairball talks to him, but he does not get a straight answer. Huck’s fears are not unfounded, however; when he goes up to his room, he finds Pap waiting for him. Huck is startled and afraid, but Pap’s dirty, sickly image soon calms his fears, and he speaks right up when his father starts harassing him about his fine clothes and his education. Pap, however, threatens to “take it out of him” for trying to be better than his own father. He grabs the dollar the judge had given Huck, so he can go downtown for some whiskey. He tries to get the rest of Huck’s money from Judge Thatcher, but the judge ignores his request. Later Judge Thatcher and the Widow Douglas go to court to try to win custody of Huck, but the new judge grants custody to Pap. Pap promises to “turn over a new leaf.” The new judge and his wife give him dinner, a new coat, and a clean bed, but he sneaks out in the middle of the night and trades his new coat for a jug of whiskey. He gets drunk, falls off the porch, and breaks his arm.

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