Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Length: 1173 words (3.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Is Huck Finn a masterpiece or an insult? That is the question asked by many parents, teachers, and scholars. When "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" was first published, it seemed doomed from the start. With a hero who lies, steals, and uses rough language, parents thought "Huck Finn," as it is commonly called, would corrupt young children. Little did they know that it would be a book that would both revolutionize American literature and be at the center of literary debate (Napierkowski). Many people regard "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" as one of the greatest novels in American literature; others think it celebrates racism and should be banned from our schools.

"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," written by Mark Twain and originally published in 1884, is the story of an interracial friendship between Huck and Jim. Huck, a young white male, was on the run, making his get away down the Mississippi River, away from the life he lived with an abusive father. Jim, an adult black male, was an escaped slave, making the same journey on his way to freedom. Together the pair formed a unique friendship as they experienced adventures on their travels along the Mississippi River. The story of their adventures was written in the language of the time, meaning, among other things that Jim is regularly referred to as "Nigger Jim." It is the use of such "language of the time," specifically the use of the word "nigger," that has caused "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" to be one of the ten most banned books in America (Alward).

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." 20 Aug 2018

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Symbolism in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain Essay

- Rivers flow freely and calmly, and people usually go to the river to get away from the hectic world around them. With nature surrounding them, people can find peace and quietness. The Mississippi River is the largest river in the United States. It’s length and width, along with its fast flowing current, makes it an ideal scene to escape civilization. In “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain, the two main characters, Huck and Jim, find peace on the Mississippi as they spend endless nights floating down stream....   [tags: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain, Symbol]

Research Papers
762 words (2.2 pages)

Positive Changes in Character in "The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain

- The novel “The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn”, by Mark Twain is an exciting book that describes the story of a young boy and his friend Jim. Huckleberry Finn, who is the protagonist in this tale, is a young boy who enjoys his immature life to the fullest. Playing pranks, going on adventures and running away from society are part of his daily thrill. At first sight it might seem that Huckleberry Finn might be an uneducated boy who has no interest or probability of growing mature. However, throughout the story the immature boy has plenty of encounters which strengthen his character and lead him from boy- to manhood....   [tags: Adventure of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain, ]

Research Papers
1973 words (5.6 pages)

Racism, Obscenity and Society in "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain

- Racism, obscenity, and the level of society make up a large portion of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Mark Twain’s book is a well-known classic. However, he includes topics and dialogue that has caused tremendous conflict and controversy. In schools across the country, Huck Finn is already being taken off shelves due to its inappropriate nature. Many people believe that Huck Finn should be banned because of the insulting words and quotes displayed in the book. Mark Twain has been critically accused of being a “racist writer.” His writings have been extremely insulting towards colored people....   [tags: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain, racism]

Research Papers
516 words (1.5 pages)

Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and the Theme of Nature

- The novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain has many different, intertwining themes. The book spotlights the personal growth and development of the protagonist, Huckleberry Finn, through the theme of nature. The importance of nature is shown in several ways like the symbolism of the Mississippi River, through the forest and Huck’s time spent living there, and by the argument of human nature versus civilization. While there are many different themes throughout the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the aspect of nature and its significance is extremely important and is vital to the plot and character development of the entire book....   [tags: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Nature, Mark Twain]

Research Papers
1554 words (4.4 pages)

Banning "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn written by Mark Twain" in Schools

- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn written by Mark Twain might seem like a good book to have high school students read since it’s about a boy named Huckleberry Finn and his adventures through his life by dealing with the struggles that he has or when he finds a runaway slave, named Jim, who is on an island trying to stay hidden so he will not be sold as a slave. Throughout the novel the reader will see that Huck has an adventurous personality, comes to find out who is father is and tries to help Jim, the runaway slave, to live and hopefully see his family again....   [tags: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain, censor]

Research Papers
1041 words (3 pages)

Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn Essay example

- Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn The novel is set in the 1930's in St. Petersburg, a fictitious place supposedly reminiscent of the town of Hannibal, Missouri the place where Mark Twain grew up. It follows the events in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, also of the same author. CHARACTERS Huck Finn. Huckleberry Finn or Huck Fin is the protagonist of the story. A dynamic character, he is a liar and sometimes a thief. In Tom Sawyer's book, he is a vagabond with a drunkard father. In this book, he starts as a ward to Miss Watson and Widow Douglas....   [tags: Mark Twain Huck Finn Huckleberry]

Research Papers
1711 words (4.9 pages)

Superstition in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Essay

- Mark Twain saturates the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with many examples of superstition and myths. These aspects of the novel help the story progress, they provide entertainment and help the story identify with the time. The most important reason for the superstition and the rituals that come along with them are they are one of the main reasons for the adventure in the first place. There are many examples throught the story of the superstition from the spider in the candle to the rattle-snake skin and the hair-ball....   [tags: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain]

Free Essays
445 words (1.3 pages)

The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain Essay examples

- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn written by Mark Twain is a novel depicting an era of southern society and environment and the ignorance of southernism opposition to slavery. It is written in southern dialect and seen through the adventures of two boys from different societies running away from civilization. The author bases the novel on the conflict between civilization and natural life. Throughout the novel, Twain seems to suggest that the uncivilized way of life is better: his belief is that civilization corrupts rather than improves human beings (etc,etc,etc)....   [tags: Mark Twain Huck Finn]

Free Essays
1041 words (3 pages)

Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn Essay example

- Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn No one who has read the novel Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain can deny not seeing the faults of the civilized world that Twain so critically satires. This element of the novel plays the perfect backdrop to the thing Twain uses to compare civilization with: The ideal way of living. Every time the main characters Huck and Jim are away from the influences of the civilized world, Twain’s vision of the ideal way of living reveals itself to the reader....   [tags: Mark Twain Huck Finn Essays]

Research Papers
797 words (2.3 pages)

Essay on Huck Finn by Mark Twain

- In the story Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, the river symbolizes freedom. Huck goes on the river to get free from becoming civilized and to get away from his pap and Jim uses the river to get freed from slavery. Also the king and the duke use it to escape from angry towns. Any time they are in trouble when they get on the river they are no longer in trouble.      Huck gets a raft to go down the river to get away from his pap and so he is no longer living in civilization. He didn't like sleeping in a bed and reading books, Huck says, I didn't see how I'd ever got to like it so well at the widow's, where you had to wash, and eat on a plate, and comb up, and go to bed and get up regul...   [tags: Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain]

Free Essays
428 words (1.2 pages)

Ironically, however, it wasn't the language that first led to Huck Finn being banned in Concord, Massachusetts, only a year after the book was published. It was originally banned because the book was thought to be "more geared towards slums, rather than intelligent people" (Walsh).

Censorship is justified for many reasons, and has existed for as long as people have been writing books. "In ancient times, when hand-scribed books existed in only one or few copies, destroying them guaranteed that no one would ever read them" (Mullally). The invention of the printing press, however, complicated censorship efforts. Smashing a few stone tablets no longer brought a book's existence to an end. More formalized "book banning" had to come about; this took place mostly in libraries and public schools. In 1982, however, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Board of Education, Island Trees School District v. Pico that "if a book is to be removed, an inquiry must be made as to the motivation and intention of the party calling for its removal. If the party's intention is to deny students access to ideas with which the party disagrees, it is a violation of the First Amendment" (Mullally). Censorship was no longer as easy as it once was.

Despite the passing of time, and the rulings of the court, the debate over Huck Finn still rages. Most of the book's attackers focus on the use of "the N-word." They ask, "How can you ask kids to go home and read the word ‘nigger' 200-something times in "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and then except kids to come back to school and not use the word?" (Walsh). They argue "There are a lot better ways to combat racism and all than to use every racially offensive word 6 thousand times in a novel" (Yee). Others suggest that the reason they want Huck Finn banned is because of what they perceive as the degrading depiction of the runaway slave Jim, who "is made to look, act, and sound stupid" (Walsh). It is even stated that "most parents, teachers, administrators would agree that censorship is necessary to maintain a good environment for learning," citing Nazi hate propaganda as an example and then making a correlation to Twain's "racist" language.

Supporters of Twain's work come with many weapons of their own to defend Huck Finn. They make the point that while reading the book, you must remember that Mark Twain was not a racist; he rarely spoke or wrote of race, but when he did it was generally more favorable to blacks than whites. "You must understand what Twain was trying to do with his story; trying to reveal the plight of the slave. And he was doing it with the vernacular of the time" (Kelly). Twain wrote Huck Finn in mindset of Americans during the 19th century, and it is important for readers to see how far we, as Americans, have come since then (Yee). "Huck Finn is a novel that, despite the N-word, portrays great values that should not be overlooked. If we ban Huck Finn, then we are ignoring our history, and racism was a part of our history, whether we like it or not, and reading the book helps us remember the mistakes of our American past" (Yee). It is also argued that banning books often robs students of great literature. "Do we remove ‘Macbeth' because of the murders and witches?" (Kelly). And finally, it is argue that censorship of any kind is an attack on our freedom, freedom that our country was founded upon, freedom that Huck and Jim both sought and found in Twain's novel.

Many people regard "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" as one of the greatest novels in American literature; others think it celebrates racism and should be banned from our schools. Regardless of any individual view, it is true that "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" remains a standard of American literature, for better or for worse. "As the book is brought into the limelight by attempts to have it censored, the more popular it will become. It is human nature to desire the forbidden" (Alward). Banned so quickly, only a year after it was published, because it was so controversial, Huck Finn transformed American literature, and the arguments over American literature, in many ways. "Huck Finn was and probably will remain, a lesson in the use of language, of epithets, of slurs and how they can or can't change over time" (Walsh). And the impact they have on us all.

Works Cited

Alward, Mary M. "Suite" BANNED BOOKS: Should Huckleberry Finn Be Banned?. 13 2001. Creative Marketeam Canada Ltd. 03 Sep. 2005 .

Kelly, Melissa. "Secondary School Educators." Censorship and Book Banning in America. 2005. 03 Sep. 2005 .

Mullally, Claire. "Libraries & First Amendment." Banned Books. 02 2005. First Amendment Center. 03 Sep. 2005 .

Napierkowski, Mary Rose. "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Introduction." 1998. Novels for Students. 03 Sep. 2005 .

Walsh, Bill. "Media Literacy Review." Huck Finn and the Power of Words. University of Oregon. 03 Sep. 2005 .

Yee, Tiffany. "Do you think "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" should be banned from schools?." Silver Chips Online 05 2005. 03 Sep 2005
Return to