The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Research Paper

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Since its first publication in 1884, Mark Twain’s masterpiece The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has proven to be one of history’s most controversial novels; especially recently, the novel has often been banned by schools and censored by libraries. Characters in the book are constantly using disparaging language toward slaves, and the repeated use of the word “nigger” makes many sensitive and offended. Critics denounce the novel and Mark Twain as racist for this word being insulting and politically incorrect and for its depiction of black people and how they are treated. However, Twain was not attempting to perpetuate racism; on the contrary, he used satire to expose the ignorance and paradoxical views held by many in America at that time. Despite objections to the novel for offensive and insensitive portrayal of African Americans due to Twain’s negative and stereotypical “minstrel-like” characterization of Jim and the extensive use of the term “nigger,” throughout the novel, Twain exposes Jim’s unfeigned humanity behind a “minstrel-like” pretense by illustrating his capacity to possess profound human emotions and his triggering Huck’s moral transformation from a conscienceless, uncivilized juvenile into a an adolescent able to make the ethical choice.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been the source of criticism on many occasions. One major objection to the novel is based on the portrayal of black characters in general and Jim in particular as a “minstrel” with absurd dialectal speech and superstition. Former English professor at University of Alabama Claudia Durst Johnson states, “Black characters, including Jim, are reduced to minstrel or childlike roles which deny their humanity and maturity” (72). However, critics...

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...Claudia Durst. “Unfit for Children: Censorship and Race.” Huck Finn in Context: A Teaching Guide. Excerpt from Understanding Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996.

Nichols, Charles H. “‘A True Book — With Some Stretchers’: Huck Finn Today.” Satire or Evasion? Black Perspectives on Huckleberry Finn. Ed. Thadious M. Davis, Thomas A. Tenney, and James S. Leonard. Durham: Duke University Press, 1992. 208–215.

Smiley, Jane. “Say It Ain’t So, Huck: Second thoughts on Mark Twain’s ‘masterpiece.’” Harper’s Magazine Jan. 1996: 61–67. .

Wallace, John H. “The Case Against Huck Finn.” Satire or Evasion? Black Perspectives on Huckleberry Finn. Ed. Thadious M. Davis, Thomas A. Tenney. Durham: Duke University Press, 1992. 16–24.
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