Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been controversial ever since its release in 1884. It has been called everything from the root of modern American literature to a piece of racist trash. The greatest controversy, however, comes with its presence in high school classrooms. The book's use of the “n-word” causes many to question Twain's real motives in writing it. Huck's constant musings about Jim's uncouth and lowly demeanor can cause the reader to feel uncomfortable, but we must remember that Huck acts as he sees adults acting, and his views merely reflect those of his fellow Southerners. Twain intended The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to satirize the South and its long, excruciating process of eliminating slavery and attaining equality for all people. Huck Finn provides an accurate glimpse into our terrible past, and for this reason, it must be taught in classes across the country.
Considering that a lot of high schools are racially mixed, strong discomfort ensues when classes dive into The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. If teachers do not confront the issue of the novel's offensive language ahead of time, people are bound to get upset. In Cherry Hill, New Jersey, in 1995, a group of eleventh-grade black students boycotted the book because of its racist content. Pressured into making a change before these students flunked out of school, the district brought parents, students, teachers, administrators, and scholars together to remedy the problem. After a year of intense debate, they finally figured out a way to teach Huck Finn that addressed each group's concerns.
Although Huck Finn displays examples of alarming ignorance and racism throughout, the story also contains several of the most inspirational lines in American literature. When Huck decides that he'll “go to Hell” in order to save Jim, the reader sees that Huck's real beliefs differ from those of his contemporaries. The book must be read for what it truly is: a classic of...
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