In Another Man's Shoes

A WebQuest for 11th Grade English

Using Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn

Designed by Melissa Moster

Huck and Jim on raftIntroduction | Task | Process | Evaluation | Conclusion | Credits | Teacher Page

Introduction

"You don't know 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 were 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 stretchers, as I said before."

This passage clues the reader that Huckleberry Finn is what we would call an unreliable narrator. Certainly, he is a complex character. The various aspects of his personality create a flawed, if well meaning, individual. His character is revealed through his statements, actions/reactions, and that which he does not understand.

We can all agree that stories change based upon who is telling a story. A four-year-old would give an entirely different version of a story from a 60-year-old. It is essential to understand that the narrator affects a story’s style and meaning.

Slavery is an important topic in this novel, yet Huck Finn is a young, white male. How would the story have been different if the book was narrated by a different character? It is interesting to think about this question in regards to all of the characters, but for this task, you will focus on one character: the runaway slave, Jim.

It will be your assignment to figure out how Jim, the runaway slave, would view the story.

Task

Your job will be to rewrite one of the following scenes from Jim's point of view.

  1. The snakebite incident
  2. Going aboard the Walter Scott
  3. The discussion about Solomon and the French Language
  4. The fog incident and the trick Huck plays

To help you accomplish this task, you will work through this pathfinder to learn more about slavery and its effects. You will be answering questions as you go along, to help you get in the mindset of a slave who is running away from home.

Process

You will have a variety of jobs to do that will lead up to the final assignment of re-writing a scene from Huckleberry Finn. Take notes as you read.

  1. Read the Wikipedia entry on the History of Slavery in the United States. This will give you a broad overview of the history surrounding Mark Twain's novel.
  2. Go to the African American Odyssey from the Library of Congress Online Exhibit and read Slavery: The Peculiar Institution parts 1 and 2. This website includes many primary documents. Spend some time exploring these documents.
  3. Now you will create a timeline of the important events that occurred in the history of American Slavery. Your timeline should include at least 5 events. To make a timeline, follow the instructions below
  4. Go to the C-span website, American Writers: A journey Through History. Watch the 3 short video clips on Race Relations. Answer the questions that follow in your journal.
  5. Visit The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual Record Physical Punishment, Rebellion, Running Away website. Explore these images that detail Physical Punishment, Rebellion, Running Away. In your journal, answer these questions: If you were a slave, do you think you would runaway? What if you had a family? What would the consequences be if you were caught? Are they worth it?
  6. Read this interview with LuLu Bowers on the Library of Congress page about American Life Histories. This excerpt is from an oral history interview conducted in the 1930s. Mrs. Bowers was a white woman who apparently had some familiarity with slavery. After reading, discuss the following questions with a parnter. How does Mrs. Bowers describe life both during and after slave times? How credible do you think her description of slavery is?
  7. Go to the American Slave Narratives online anthology. Choose one of the narratives and read about that person.
  8. Read the Narrative of William W. Brown, an American Slave. Scroll down and begin reading on page 13, Narrative. How does this narrative compare to the narrative you read on the American Slave Narratives online anthology? Jot down your ideas for a class discussion.
  9. Now it is time to choose which scene you wish to rewrite. Brainstorm aspects of the scene that will be different with Jim as the narrator. Use Inspiration to map this out. Think about how they will be different and why. Look at the sample Ispiration character web created for Huckleberry Finn. Do something similar for Jim and the scene you choose to help get your ideas out.
  10. inspiration sample
  11. Think about what you have learned about what life was like for slaves. Using this information, write down what you think are Jim's central conflict's as a character. Write down at least one internal and one external conflict.
  12. Write a rough draft of your scene. Have a peer edit it. When you have revised your first draft based upon your peer's recommendations, please present it to the teacher. When you receive it back from the teacher, proceed to write the final draft.

Evaluation

Your final scene rewrite will be graded using the following rubric.
  Beginning
1
Developing
2
Accomplished
3
Exemplary
4
Score
Content Scene excludes major elements of the original scene. Scene excludes multiple minor elements of the orignal scene. Scene excludes one minor element of the original scene. All elements from original scene are included.  
Characterization The character of Jim is minimally realized and believable. The character of Jim is somewhat realized and believable. The character of Jim is partially realized and believable. The character of Jim is fully realized and believable.  
Style There are major problems with the Narrator's personality and voice. Narrator’s personality comes through most of the time
AND
Voice is somewhat appropriate to the character.
Narrator’s personality comes through most of the time
OR
Voice is somewhat appropriate to the character.
Narrator’s personality comes through. Voice is appropriate to the character.  
Spelling and Grammar There are more than 6 minor grammatical/spelling errors, and/or more than 4 major grammatical/spelling errors. There are 5 to 6 minor grammatical/spelling errors, or 3 to 4 major grammatical/ spelling errors. There are 3 to 4 minor grammatical/spelling errors, or 1 to 2 major grammatical/ spelling errors. There are only 1 or 2 minor grammatical/spelling errors.  
Research It is evident that student has performed little of the assigned research. It is evident that the student has performed some of the assigned research. It is evident that the student has performed most of the assigned research. It is evident that student has performed all the assigned research.  
Timeline Timeline included 2 events. Timeline included 3 events. Timeline included 4 events.; Timeline included 5 events.  
Participation Student participated in few class discussions. Student participated in some class discussions. Student participated in most class discussions. Student participated in all class discussions.  
        Total Score  

Conclusion

Now that you have finished this project, reflect on how the story changed when Jim was the narrator. Think about how incredibly important it is to think about the narrator and to question how they affect the story.

Credits & References

The Huckleberry Finn and Jim image comes from WikiSummaries Blog.

Many thanks to Katherine Foret and Kristin Weber whose webquest Rewriting Romeo and Juliet was immensely helpful.

Thanks to Sue Erichsen for the sample image from Inspiration.

We all benefit by being generous with our work. Permission is hereby granted for other educators to copy this WebQuest, update or otherwise modify it, and post it elsewhere provided that the original author's name is retained along with a link back to the original URL of this WebQuest. On the line after the original author's name, you may add Modified by (your name) on (date). If you do modify it, please let me know and provide the new URL.


Last updated on June 15, 2007. Designed by Melissa Moster.