Interdisciplinary primary materials for classroom use and student research illuminate the historical and social issues of this controversial American classic.
Gr 10 Up-Although this guide opens with the expected literary analysis, it quickly expands its scope with discussions of censorship, racism, and life in Mark Twain's America. Each chapter is supported by documents and readings that add to the understanding of the novel's complex social and political issues. While the narrative is well written, it will prove challenging for less sophisticated students, and some of the source material, such as the complicated Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 and the biblically oriented writings of Thomas Nelson Page, will put off many. Yet, Johnson balances the 19th-century topics with contemporary counterparts whenever possible; for example, a 1995 interview with a former gang member complements the section on codes of honor in Twain's time. Suggestions for projects, classroom discussions, and additional reading follow each chapter. A valuable resource for teachers and serious students.-Pat Katka, formerly at San Diego Public Library