Students Should Study Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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Mark Twain published what scholars still consider one of the greatest American literary works in 1885, and in that same year it suffered its first banning (Zwick). “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is essential to the understanding of the American soul,” Victor Doyno states on the jacket of Random House’s comprehensive edition of the novel. If Huckleberry Finn is so indispensable, then its having been opposed from the beginning of its life seems more than a little surprising. At first, the strife was caused by many objecting to the friendship between Huckleberry Finn, the white protagonist, and Jim, an escaped African American slave, in addition to the grammar upon which many critics of the time frowned. As our society experiences changes in priorities, taboos, and social trends, the points of concern shift, and no longer do critics grimace at an interracial friendship; instead, they attack the racism supposedly present (Chadwick). A number of students, parents, and, on less frequent occasions, teachers claim that Huckleberry Finn possesses racist overtones and try to have it removed from school libraries and the curriculum. Despite the controversy, Huckleberry Finn, in which Twain delivers an honest depiction of the 1800’s, maintains its stance as a classic piece of literature beneficial to a student’s education (Chadwick). The shallowest and most prevalent argument involves the repeated, some attackers say excessive, use of the word “nigger,” which appears over two hundred times (Zwick). Today, the word is unquestionably one of the most offensive expletives in use; the book, however, was not written for this decade, or even this century, and it certainly was not intended to be a written prediction of the future. Huck... ... middle of paper ... ...nd hopefully in another century, his writing will continue to enlighten future students. WORKS CITED “Blackface: The Minstrel Tradition.” Louisville University. 12 March 2003 http://www.louisville.edu/~afcren01/blackface.html>. Chadwick, Jocelyn. “Why Huck Finn Belongs in Classrooms.” Harvard Education Research Letter Online. November 2000. 10 February 2003 http://www.edletter.org/past/issues/2000-nd/huckfinn.shtml>. Gregory Leslie. “Finding Jim Behind the Mask: The Revelation of African American Humanity in Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Ampersand. 13 July 1998. 12 March 2003 http://itech.fgcu.edu/&/issues/vol1/huckfinn.htm>. Salwen, Peter. “Is Huck Finn a Racist Book?” Salwen Business Communications. 1996. 10 February 2003 http://salwen.com/mtrace.html>. “Stereotype.” Def. 2. Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary. 1997.
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