The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Unit Plan

Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is often described as THE great American novel. Teachers can use this resource as guidelines for producing their own novel unit for this text.

Novel Unit

Mark Twain's classic novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, examines a variety of serious themes and moral dilemmas. Use this unit plan to prepare your teaching of this novel.

Comprehension, themes, irony, and satire should be the center of this unit. Opportunities for class discussion, group work, and projects are included.

Background Knowledge

Although it has been misunderstood as a children's story, the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn does not forsake embracing adult concepts and ideas. Before jumping into the text itself, prepare students for the intense central themes surrounding this story. Use these questions for open discussion or individual journal entries.

  • How has racism affected American history? What about world history?
  • How does racism affect our society today?
  • How can an author use irony to prove a point?
  • What is satire?
  • What satire do we see in pop culture?
  • What sort of effect does satire have? What is its purpose?

Furthermore, your class needs to have a general understanding of slavery in America's history in order to fully understand the events and characters in the story. Slavery in America Lesson Plan provides a lesson on slavery in America, how it came to be and how slaves lived.

In addition, Slavery in America Essay Topics can be used as guiding questions for class discussions. Alternatively, students can research and examine these concepts individually or in groups. These ideas are important to review so that students understand the various facets of slavery, why Huck would believe certain racist ideas, and how he started to disapprove of what he had been taught all his life.

Lastly, the role of steamboats is also imperative to the story of Huck Finn. Use this Steamboat Lesson Plan to review the role steamboats played, their importance, and why they fell from popular use.


The major themes of the novel should also be discussed throughout the entire unit. The following themes could be the center of open discussion, group work, or individual journal writing.

  • Family: Its importance and how the idea of family has changed over time
  • Racism: Slavery and Twain's perspective on it
  • Religion: Hell and the role of punishment
  • Morality: The roles of lies in the plot
  • Freedom: Its true definition and which characters are truly free

Direct Instruction

There are many opportunities for direct instruction on a variety of concepts for this unit. The themes listed in the previous section should be used to deepen classroom discussion. Also, be sure to include direct instruction on the following topics.

  • Irony (verbal, situational, and dramatic)
  • Character Analysis of Jim: Is he simply a stereotype?
  • The role of setting in the plot
  • Examples of satire
  • The purpose and symbolism of the Duke and Dauphin
  • Imagery and other figurative language
  • Internal versus external conflict
  • The purpose and symbolism of the Mississippi River
  • The effect of dialect
  • Huck's growth and maturity

In addition to this list, Huckleberry Finn Discussion Questions contains other discussion questions to use in the classroom.

Furthermore, Huckleberry Finn Lesson Plan is an option for reviewing the main plot events of the novel after students have finished reading the entire text.

Lastly, Huckleberry Finn Activities is a resource with activities you can use throughout the unit. Writing options and group work are included.

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