The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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From the moment it was first published by Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has caused controversy. It challenged authority, made light of religion, and brought up the issue of slavery and racism. Now, 125 years later, Mark Twain’s story is still making the news. Recently the word “nigger” has been completely removed from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The decision to remove this word is unnecessary because, based on Mark Twain’s background, we know he is an anti-racist, the language adds to the story, and the story actually uses this word to make a point against racism.
Twain was undoubtedly anti-racist. Twain understood that the world he grew up in was changing when he wrote The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but he wanted to preserve the way of life during that time period through his writing. This novel has become a testament to the time period and the issues of slavery and racism that occurred. However, the use of the word "nigger" makes Huckleberry Finn a tricky novel to teach. One can fully understand why the book has been repeatedly judged as unsuitable for school children to study in the educational system. The word “nigger” is not used to offend anybody but rather to enhance the story and the time period. Twain’s repeated use of that derogatory term in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is deliberate and full of irony. For example, Aunt Sally asks if anyone was hurt in a riverboat explosion and Huck answers, "No'm. Killed a nigger.” Aunt Sally replies, “Well, it’s lucky; because sometimes people do get hurt” (Twain 266). It is very clear here which racial side Twain is on. The whole force of the passage lies in casual acceptance of the African American's dehumanized status. In addition to Mark Twain’...

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...e derogatory term, “nigger”, is appropriate in the book. It has recently been decided by the publishers that the term should be removed from the novel. Considering the background of Mark Twain and the time period the novel was written in, the use of the word “nigger” is only used to enhance the story, not to offend. Twain’s main message in his novel was to make a point against racism and using the term, “nigger”, provides an accurate depiction of how blacks were treated during the time the novel was set in.

Works Cited

Smith, David. "Huck, Jim and American Racial Discourse." The Norton Anthology of American 
Literature. Gen. ed. Nina Baym. 8th ed. Vol. C. New York: Norton, 2012. 317-19. Print.
Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Gen. ed. 
Nina Baym. 8th ed. Vol. C. New York: Norton, 2012. 130-309. Print.

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