I did indeed try the route of reading aloud--I read the first five
chapters aloud when we first began our study of the novel, and I read
at least 4 or 5 more aloud during the course of the unit. While this
seemed to help some students, others remained hopelessly confused by the
language, and they resisted my suggestion that they should also read
aloud (to themselves) at night at home (or perhaps read to a parent).
As far as specific behaviors they have used to indicate resistance,
several come to mind. Discounting those who will not read ANY book,
some students voiced displeasure at the "n-word," and I tried to
address the issue by letting them share those feelings and discussing
the word in the context of its day. But again, these are not literary
scholars, and they resist anyone telling them that this word in certain
instances is not personally directed at them. I have reinforced the
notion that they *should* be offended by the word, but that was Twain's
point--to make his readers angry or to make them question the status
Other students, even after I read aloud, said they could not
understand the dialogue and basically abandoned any attempts to
understand it. Others did not like the portrayal of Jim, even though
we drew contrasts between Pap and Jim to prove that Jim was much
more favorably characterized.
And, yes, I did have several boys who told me that they could NOT
relate to Huck, whom they view as basically an immature boy with no
sense of responsibility. Several wrote very thoughtful and coherent
journal reponses about the problems they had with looking to Huck to
learn about life. Admittedly, they might not have read closely enough,
but just honestly do not see what connection the book has to their lives
because they don't like Huck.
I have tried to deal with those who strenuously object to the book
with the fact that later in the year they will read either _Their Eyes
Were Watching God_ or _I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings_ and will
receive another point of view on some of the same issues. But they are
not interested in compromise.
I can't help but wonder if some of their displeasure at being forced
to read a certain book stems from the fact that class is structured
so on Thursdays and Fridays, we have reading workshop, when they read
and respond to a work (basically any work) of their choice. I think
this makes them resent even more being told that a certain book is
"required." Any thoughts?
P.S. I am still trying to remeber using the words "old codgers" . . .