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The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn As A Required Novel In High School

1082 words - 5 pages

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is arguably Mark Twain’s most valued and accomplished work of literature. Since its publication in 1884, however, its potential literary value has been critically debated. Commonly considered a social commentary, the book portrays the perspectives of Southern society from a young boy as he journeys down the Mississippi river with a runaway slave. Due to its implied themes on controversial and sensitive subjects, some have praised this novel as a masterpiece, while others criticize it as a propaganda that promotes racism. Despite the controversy of its worth, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a book of literary and historical values that should be taught in high schools.
At the heart of the controversy, many critics argue the novel has an ulterior motive to promote racism. When people read the book at the “surface level”, it is often perceived that the practice of discriminating towards blacks is acceptable. Many characters in the book are depicted with extreme white prejudice with the mentality that black people are inferior. Insensitive racial slurs such as “nigger” are used throughout the book that can lead people to believe that Twain is attempting to promote racism. Some even believe teenage readers might perceive the book’s language and behavior as acceptable without fully understanding the true negative connotation. Treating blacks in a demeaning way is prevalent throughout the book and can translate as acceptable racist behavior. Black people in the book are treated disrespectfully, in many cases inhumanely.
While racial slurs and discriminating events are present, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a book of tremendous literary value. During the time period that Mark Twain wrote this novel, racism and slavery were sensitive subjects to publicly express certain opinions about. He uses the book to show his intent and beliefs about society without receiving extreme criticism or punishment. Twain’s true incentive in the novel is to refute slavery and racism, not promote it. Huck begins the novel as a typical Southern boy who buys into all the beliefs of society and with no true morals of his own. As time passes throughout the novel, Huck begins to create beliefs of his own that help imply Twain’s message. Twain uses Huck’s character to represent how societal beliefs can mold people to behaviors that may not be morally correct. Twain expresses his views on the effects of society when Huck has to decide whether to save Jim, the runaway slave, as his conscience tells him to or turn him in as society deems as correct, he says, “All right then, I’ll go to hell” (155) implying that in Huck’s perspective, it is worth going to hell if it means saving Jim, and is an example of Twain’s use of Huck’s morality to show his discontent with slavery. Twain’s incentive is expertly portrayed in the book through the use of powerful literary techniques, such as satire and symbolism. Satire is used...

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