The Controversy Of Huck Finn: Reasons As To Why Huck Finn Should And Should Not Be Taught In Schools

1276 words - 5 pages

Since its publication, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, written by Mark Twain, has been challenged for a variety of reasons. Many schools have struggled in attempting to teach the book and several aspects of the novel seem inappropriate. For instance, some may agree that the use of the racial slur, nigger, Huck’s rebellion against religion, and the inaccurate portrayal of the South are all reasons why the book should not be taught. There is also the issue of racial tension; the book may be hard to teach in certain environments, particularly the South. I do acknowledge these points, however, we must face our past to conquer our fears, despite the great difficulty. If the book is taught properly, and is experienced and not simply read, then the book is truly understood.The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is one of the most banned books in American history; most of the people who want to ban the book simply have not read it or don’t understand the message behind it. One of the arguments against the book is the almost excessive use of the racial slur, nigger, which is written 212 times. Many readers, particularly African-Americans, take offense to this and label Huck Finn a racist book. However, we must remember that this book takes place in the south twenty years before the Civil War; it would be unrealistic if the slur weren’t used. At the time, the word nigger, which is used merely as a synonym for slave, was appropriate for the setting the time.Another issue is that the slur could create racial tension, especially if it was read aloud. Many students may feel insulted, especially if they are African-American. If the book is taught in an environment where African-Americans are the minority, they may feel singled out. However, if African-Americans are the majority, they may feel more comfortable with the use of the word. I would also imagine that a white teacher would be much more hesitant to say nigger than a black teacher regardless of the students ethnicity in the class. Depending on the demographics of the student population, this book could be hard to teach in certain environments.However, these problems can be avoided if the book is taught correctly. For instance, when Huck explains to Aunt Sally that there was an explosion on the steamboat, she asks, “Good gracious! anybody hurt?” Huck explains, “No'm. Killed a nigger." Then Aunt Sally replies, "Well, it's lucky; because sometimes people do get hurt.” Twain’s casual use of the word nigger in this scene helps accurately portray the way the South felt about African-Americans; they did not consider them to be people. If this dialogue were read literally, it would present a very different idea and some could even confuse Twain as a racist. The issue of the word nigger can be avoided if the book is not read literally, but rather, figuratively.Another argument against the novel is that Huck does not serve as a good role model. In many instances, Huck breaks...

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