Curriculum Design Online

Huck and Fred's Excellent Adventure...From Bogus Man to Righteous Dude.

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An Integrated, Interdisciplinary, Thematic Study of 19th Century American Realism and Seeking Truth: Morality Vs Legality from Douglass to Twain. The Realism Period is an important influence on succeeding times of American Literature because authors attempted to present life as they saw it in contrast to the previous Romantic influence where individualism, idealism and intuition were dominant In the last half of the nineteenth century, the literary trend of realism, unlike the term implies, blurred the distinction between fact and perception. Developments in science and technology challenged many traditional beliefs regarding religion, race, war, family, etc. Two significant events characterized this time period between the writings of Douglass and Twain, the American Civil War and the publishing of Darwin's Origin of Species in 1863. People questioned their beliefs about not only about the nature of man but also more importantly about themselves. However, reality was not as absolute as one would think because it was tainted with personal values, prejudices and skewed perceptions. Two authors whose perceptions still impact the world today are Frederick Douglass and Mark Twain. This unit is designed to give students a basic understanding of the changing moral climate in the U.S. through a comparison of The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass an American Slave and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain in order to provide students with connections to their own moral evolution. Both portray revolutions against accepted social patterns leading to the questioning of basic morals against current legality. Through the study of this period students will gain insight into the struggles and conflicts encountered and be able to better grapple with the dilemmas of conflicting ideologies presented to them today. When personal integrity is in disagreement with social norms, which road is chosen? The literary theme of the hero's journey to personal truth that is poignantly expressed through Douglass and Twain is a powerful tool in providing students with the opportunity to question their beliefs, to see "gray" and not just "black and white" and to examine their own moral development.