Importance of Teaching Huck Finn

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Despite misinterpretation of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as being racist and stereotypical, the novel should be taught to high school aged students because it teaches them the lessons of the bigotry and prejudice of the past. Twain’s novel focuses on slavery in the southern United States during the 1840’s. The novel tells the story of the journey of runaways Huckleberry Finn and a slave, Jim. Their escape down the Mississippi is considered an American classic, however, some readers feel the characters are stereotypical and set bad standards for children. Huck Finn has value that must be searched for, and can be found with proper teaching. Many people feel that Huck Finn should be banned from schools. John H. Wallace presented several arguments against the novel. In particular, he felt strongly about how demeaning the book is towards African Americans and that they are offended by language used within it (Wallace). For example, in the book, Aunt Sally asks if anyone was hurt and he says, “No’m. Killed a n****r” (Twain 221). This implies that slaves were worthless. Considering the treatment the African Americans have received in the past few hundred years, it is completely understandable that they are bothered by this. Wallace also feels that Twain chooses terrible role models for young readers because Jim has a negative self image and Huck is a runaway kid with bad morals (Wallace). Readers usually look up to the main character or hero of a novel, so this could be another reason for the book’s banishment from schools. Both of Wallace’s arguments are valid and should be considered in the decision to teach this novel to students. However, there is much value in teaching the next generation about the poor treatme... ... middle of paper ... ...Twain 155). Jim might be an example of the negative affects of slavery on the African American race, but his character is definitely important to the overall message of the book. The novel Huck Finn should be taught in schools across the nation at a high school level for a variety of reasons. Although some of its content is controversial, a good teacher can help readers see the true meaning of the novel. A big part of the novel’s hidden meaning is Jim’s character, who is often mistaken as being a disrespected and demeaned slave. The schools that opt in and choose to read this novel will be teaching future students key lessons about our nation’s history and prejudice in society. When reading Huck Finn, the reader must look past the initial racial slurs and disrespect that the novel uses for emphasis so that they can see the lesson being taught throughout the story.
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