Download One of the literary classics, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, By

yes no Was this document useful for you?
   Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the workof artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Document related concepts

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn wikipedia , lookup

One of the literary classics, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, By Mark Twain, is a
novel that is widely controversial because of its use of racial terms, specifically, the “N” word.
While this particular novel may use racial terms that public school teachers will not tolerate, it is
simply a reflection of living in that particular region of the country in that particular time period
and is by no means used in a derogatory form, with the exception of a few characters who are
simply not model citizens. In a writing style known as “local color,” Twain uses his knowledge
of the south to try and emulate a realistic overture that his readers can relate to. Unfortunately,
what Twain neglected to ponder was the affect it might have one-hundred years after the novel
was written. However, given the context and the situation Twain was in, it was virtually
impossible for him to determine that life would drastically change that much. In a recent
instance where a concerned parent complained about a certain novel being used in the classroom
because of its content, Dudley Barlow of Canton High School in Michigan, used examples found
within The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to show how elements of a novel are not merely
taken at face value; they are, however, taken into context and viewed in the bigger picture. He
We also use The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in which the word 'nigger' appears
probably two hundred times. Our assigning this novel does not mean that we are racists
or that we approve of this racist term. Mark Twain uses the term for its historical
authenticity and to reveal Huck's character to us. 'Nigger' is the only word Huck has for
slaves, so it is the term he uses . . . It is when Huck learns to see beyond this racist
stereotype that he begins to grow, and this growth defines the theme of the novel. Twain
could not have done this with any word other than 'nigger,' offensive as that word is.
In this instance, Barlow uses Twain’s novel and Huck as a segue into greater teaching
opportunities. In order to establish the genuine environment in which Huck lives, Twain must
use that word in the novel to be authentic. As a further argument for the term, Barlow states that
Huck’s growth comes as a result of using the word. In either case, the word is essential to the
novel. It does not, by any means, indicate a lack of respect for African Americans or support the
idea of a racist classroom; it simply was used to make a point and indicate authenticity. If the
school board were to misunderstand Twain’s use of this word and deem it as inappropriate, so
many life lessons would be lost on the students without the necessary exposure.
What more, then, do students miss when teachers and parents decide to ban Twain’s
novel? Lance Morrow, a writer for Time Magazine, argued that Huck’s voice, throughout the
novel, is a reflection of many prominent writers, including African Americans. Morrow says,
“But it is an act of real moral stupidity, and a desecration, to try to deprive the young of the voice
of Huck Finn . . . Huck's voice echoes in Langston Hughes and Ralph Ellison and Alice Walker
as well as in William Faulkner” Of the many important characteristics that The Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn has, Huck’s voice is one of the finest in all of literature; in fact, it was so great
that, as Morrow states, portions of it can be found many other literary geniuses. As Morrow
mentions, students who are not allowed to read this novel in class are missing invaluable writing
techniques, such as character voice, that Twain so meticulously includes throughout his novel.
Moreover, Morrow mentions that Twain’s novel is much deeper than that of a simple racial
issue. Twain’s novel dives into America’s past and helps it leap past hurdles that Americans
have been faced with for centuries. Morrow says, “Huck Finn is about American civilization and
about what it means to be civilized in a vast, experimental, provisional and morally unsettled
territory” (Morrow). Those who look at Twain’s novel as racist propaganda are clearly missing
the entire point of the novel. It would be a shame to lose out on so many different facets of
learning that this novel has to offer if this book were inappropriately banned. Again, it was by
no means to be racist or prejudice; it is, in fact, much deeper than that.
While analysts of Twain’s writing certainly help the reader and the casual observers
understand that Twain’s novel did not have any malicious intent, there are also many life lessons
that students can learn from reading it. For example, there is a section of the novel where Huck
has the opportunity to turn his friend, Jim, in to the police as a runaway slave. Morrow states
that Huck wrestles with the decision of doing what the law says he should do and what his
conscious says he should do. Morrow states, “In one of the great moments of American
literature . . . Huck says, ‘All right, then, I'll go to hell.’ He tears up the note to Miss Watson in
which he meant to betray his friend. He has done the loneliest, bravest work there is - making a
life-or-death decision against the law. . .” (Morrow). In this instance, the reader sees Huck doing
what parents and other role models have been trying to instill: making the decision to be loyal
and true as opposed to doing the “popular” thing. Huck shows tremendous character in this
scene as he wrestles with his thoughts, and even legal obligation, as he decides to do what is best
for friend, Jim. What more could parents and teachers ask for in a novel? What valuable lessons
in life will students be missing out on if they are denied such a privilege as to read Twain’s
masterpiece? Students will not learn invaluable lessons that they can apply throughout their
Also, Morrow vividly says that this novel is not merely for Caucasian individuals. This
novel was written as much for African-Americans as it was for Caucasians. Morrow states,
Huck Finn carries an almost magic cargo of deeper grownup meanings. How racially
condescending to assume that such meanings of American civilization - even as they are
relayed by Huck through his white genius/ventriloquist, Mark Twain - cannot concern
blacks. A number of black writers in the past, uncontaminated by the ideologies of
correctness, have agreed. (Morrow)
In essence, Morrow clearly refutes the fact that this novel was a “slap in the face” to the
African American community. It was, however, written for African Americans just as much as it
was written for anyone else. The morals and values that are portrayed in Huck’s character are
for everyone; Twain did not intend to single out any certain ethnicity. He did, however, intend
for anyone to be able to come away with these values and that’s exactly what he did. Parents and
teachers opposed to this novel must look at the bigger picture in order to refrain from doing a
great injustice to the students.
Barlow, Dudley. "The Teachers' Lounge." Education Digest (2008): 67-70. Academic
Search Premier. EBSCO. Web
Morrow, Lance. "In praise of 'Huckleberry Finn.'." Current 372 (1995): 28+. Gale
Opposing Viewpoints In Context.