Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 1884, Ch. I, p. 9
“You don't know about me, without you have read a book by the name of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” but that ain't no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth. That is nothing. I never seen anybody but lied, one time or another, without it was Aunt Polly, or the widow, or maybe Mary. Aunt Polly--Tom's Aunt Polly, she is--and Mary, and the Widow Douglas, is all told about in that book--which is mostly a true book; with some stretchers, as I said before.”
This passage begins Mark Twain’s famous work and tells us that it is a sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. It also sets the tone for a brand new batch of adventures. I chose this passage because it immediately hooks (or draws in) the reader, whether they have read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer or not. We hear the voice of a young boy (Huck Finn) and can tell from this passage that he might be a tiny bit ornery (saying that truth stretching is nothing) and and could lead an interesting life (his mention of different characters which include a widow). Huck’s introduction makes the reader want to know more about him and these characters--who they are, where they live and what sort of lives they lead.
In this quotation we know right away that Huck’s speech is different from how we speak today (without you have read a book; ain’t know matter). This indicates he is from a different time period and likely a different place than Colorado. We also know from our studies in class, that this is a work of realism, but can see that the author will conceivably take some liberties in this tale (there are certain things he “stretches” and he “mainly” tells the truth). This is a great example of Twain’s poetic license while writing a piece of realistic fiction.
If I were teaching this passage, I would have the students do a KWL chart. This is a chart that can be done individually or on the board as a class. The acronym stands for K: What do you know about the chosen topic? W: What do you want to know about this topic? and L: What did you learn about the topic? The L is to be completed after the book and all lessons have been completed. The specific topic would be Literary Realism and the South during the setting of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. When doing a lesson like this, I can see what students already know (so I do not have to re-teach these things) and also what their interests are. This maximizes time and draws the learning experience from the students’ interests and desires; thus, making the learning experience more relevant and fun!
Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 1884, Ch. XVI, pp. 103-104
“They went off, and I got aboard the raft, feeling bad and low, because I knowed very well I had done wrong, and I see it warn't no use for me to try to learn to do right; a body that don't get started right when he's little, ain't got no show--when the pinch comes there ain't nothing to back him up and keep him to his work, and so he gets beat. Then I thought a minute, and says to myself, hold on,--s'pose you'd a done right and give Jim up; would you felt better than what you do now? No, says I, I'd feel bad--I'd feel just the same way I do now. Well, then, says I, what's the use you learning to do right, when it's troublesome to do right and ain't no trouble to do wrong, and the wages is just the same? I was stuck. I couldn't answer that. So I reckoned I wouldn't bother no more about it, but after this always do whichever come handiest at the time.”
This passage follows a scene when Huck lies to some men to keep them from seeing he has a slave on his raft; he does this to protect Jim, but then feels guilty and begins to contemplate the wrongfulness of his actions.
Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry