March 27, 2020

Huck Finn chapters 12-14

If you’re wondering what kind of raft (also called a skiff) Huck and Jim are using, here’s an idea (complete with their wigwam to keep them dry in the rain):

What do you think about Huck’s “borrowing” that he learned from Pap? Easy to justify any kind of behavior if you couch it in terms of what you “intended” to do later.

They find a steamboat wreck–the Walter Scott–and decide to investigate it. Perhaps it looked something like this:

Jim is cautious and hesitant, because he’s got the most to lose. Huck is more adventurous and not realizing what danger he could be putting Jim in. Now, there’s a SECOND Jim who is part of these thieves, so don’t get OUR JIM mixed with the BAD JIM whose last name is Turner. (Why Twain couldn’t have thought of a different name, I don’t know.) The gang comes up with a way to “kill” Bad Jim without really being responsible for it.

Think about this incident: Twain is showing how people justify their bad behavior and make it appear it’s someone else’s fault, not their own.

Huck has an idea–get rid of the gang’s boat so they can’t leave Bad Jim to drown on the steamboat when it goes under, and send the sheriff to arrest them all, saving Bad Jim Turner’s life.

Think about Huck’s character here, especially when he considers that he doesn’t want to leave even murderers in such a bad position, because who knows–Huck might someday be a murderer himself. Consider his sense of morality: even if these guys are horrible, he still doesn’t want to be the means of them suffering. How does that contrast with the “white trash” attitude of everyone else around him? It seems like Twain is suggesting that Huck and Jim are the only really moral people around.

Clever Huck then comes up with a way to send “help” to the steamboat and take care of the murderers properly. And then he and GOOD Jim get to enjoy the spoils of their evening.

(Seegars, by the way, are cigars.)

The story about King Solomon–the REAL story is that he was very wise, and to demonstrate it, the Old Testament tells of a story about two women who lived together (presumably harlots) who both had babies. One accidentally rolled over on her baby, smothering it, so she swapped her dead baby with the other harlot’s baby, so when they woke up, she had a live baby and claimed it was hers. Naturally the mother of the live baby was furious that the other woman stole her baby, and they took the case to King Solomon. What Jim gets wrong is how Solomon determines the real mother.

Solomon’s solution, which sounds ghastly but he was never going to go through with it, was to take the living baby and cut it in half, giving one half to each mother. Of course the REAL mother would do anything to protect the life of her living baby, so she said the other woman who stole it could keep it. Whereas the woman whose baby died was perfectly fine with her “friend’s” baby also dying. King Solomon then gave the baby to the rightful mother, because he could determine definitively who she was.

But poor Jim misses the point of the story. He does have a fascination with kings, it seems, and when they mention the dolphin, they’re referring to the Dauphin, who was the son of the French King Louis the XVI. Of course, they don’t understand the term “Dauphin” so they call him the dolphin.

And also Jim doesn’t understand French. (Sorry, Tiphaine.)


Huck and Jim are now on the river, which symbolizes freedom. They are their own family, their own set of rules, their own masters (no one owns Jim on the river). The banks of the river, however, represent society and its expectations, rules, and constraints. Watch what happens in the next several chapters when Huck and Finn have to go ashore, and then how their lives are when they remain on the river.


I have to say I love the people on the AP English Facebook page. I feel like I have 6,000 new friends, and we all feel the same way–THIS ISOLATION FROM OUR STUDENTS STINKS!

Anyway, someone in the AP teachers page posted this:

Image may contain: 1 person, text

We’re going to be doing some more of Emily Dickinson, and here’s a fun page for you to do:

Getting a feel for her style? She had a thing about death, and not that she was terrified of it, or morbid, but sincerely intrigued, it seems.

We’re going to look at her (probably) most famous poem, “Because I could not stop for Death” As with last time, I want you to READ it, MARK IT UP, then WRITE about it–but you can wait with your write-up until I post my Youtube video explanation of what I see in the poem. Then see what we have in common, what you discovered that I didn’t mention, etc. HERE IT IS!

As you read the poem follow SLAM–Structure, Language, Affect, and Meaning. Here are a few items to notice and ask, Why did she do this?

  • What words are capitalized?
  • What purpose do the dashes serve?
  • Does she use alliteration? Where? What does it do?
  • What’s going on with time in the poem?
  • What does all of this mean?

READING HOMEWORK: Huck Finn chaps. 15-17


  • 1.  What trick does Huck play on Jim?
  • 2.  Why doesn’t Huck turn in Jim?
  • 3.  Why don’t the slave hunters get Jim?
  • 4.  Explain the differences between Huck and the slave hunters.
  • 5.  What is the bad luck in Chapter 16?
  • 6.  How does Huck get to the Grangerfords?

POEM ANALYSIS: Emily Dickinson’s “Because I could not stop for Death”. You may use ideas from my YouTube annotation, if you wish. Create a one-page analysis–in PARAGRAPH FORM–of what you see happening in this poem.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s