Huckleberry Finn

I. Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) Nov. 30, 1835-April 21, 1910


Huckleberry Finn (U.K. Dec. 1884, U.S. Feb. 1885)


Twain 1884

U. Va. HF site:



II. The Civil War—A Country Divided

A. Constitution and compromises:  faultlines within the State(Our

Constitution sanctioned slavery (1787)

Missouri Compromise (1820)

Compromise of 1850 

Kansas-Nebraska Act 1854

Dred Scott Decision 1857

Emancipation Proclamation (1863)

13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Abolition of Slavery (1865)

B. Physical division into free and slave states

The Mason-Dixon Line

Free States and Slave States

C Images of the Division

Eastman Johnson, Old Kentucky Home (Negro Life at the South), 1859.


William Sidney Mount, The Power of Music, 1847.

James Clonney, Politicians in a Country Bar, 1844.

James Clonney, Waking Up, 1851.

William Sidney Mount, Farmers Nooning, 1836.


III. General Structure of the Novel

Thomas Hart Benton, A Social History of the State of Missouri: Huckleberry Finn (detail of north wall), 1936, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Missouri State Museum.


A. Life on the River: A Wigwam on a Raft

George Caleb Bingham, Raftsmen Playing Cards (1847).



George Calem Bingham, The Jolly Flatboatmen, 1846.





B. The Steamboat Crash

C. Life on Shore

D: General Theme: Society vs. the "Social Instinct"


IV. The Main Characters

A. Jim--Slave and Father

1. E. W. Kemble's Jim--The Slave

See Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia, "Imaging "Slavery" in MT's Books"

"Representing Jim 1885-1985" (Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia)

Kemble's own account of his illustrations: from The Colophon: A Book Collectors' Quarterly"Illustrating Huckleberry Finn" (February 1930)

2. The Good Father


 Unknown artist, Slave Market, cs. 1850-1860.


Eyre Crowe, Slave Auction in Richmond, Virginia, 1852.


Slave Family Photo, 1861-62

B. Tom

C. The King and the Duke

D. Good Mothers

E. Huck--a "Wild Child"

An Orphan and a Bad Son

Housekeeping on the Raft

"All up with Cairo": Huck's Imaginary Families


The Simms family (1850s) 




V. Family, Race, and Conscience

A. The Grangerford/Shepherdson Feud: Family Values

1.The Ideal Home

Lilly Martin Spencer, The Little Navigator, The Little Sunshade 1854

Lilly Martin Spencer, This Little Pig Went to Market, 1857


2. Religion

3. The Death of Buck

4. No Home Like a Raft



B. The Great Escape

David Gilmour Blythe, Street Urchins, 1856-60.

1. Huck Struggles with his Conscience: “Brung up wicked.”

2. "He had a dream . . .and it shot him."