My essay deals with banning the novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from highschool reading lists, and why this behavior is inappropriate. Specifically, itaddresses the following question: Columnist James J. Kilpatrick wrote that HuckFinn is “a fun book for white boys to read…
For black children, I havecome to realize, it is a brutal slap in the face.” He condemns the bookbecause of its use of the word “nigger.” Many school districts havebanned this book for the same reason. What are your views on this subject? Sincethe Civil War, racism has been a very delicate issue with the American public.Whereas some people have tried to transgress this issue, pretending that race nolonger plays a significant role in our country, other people still believe thatthere are serious racial dilemmas in the United States. I am one these people.
However, unlike some, I do not believe this problem can be solved by avoiding orsugarcoating the issue of race, as James L. Kilpatrick and several schoolsappear to be doing. In the novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twainpresents an adventure story filled with deeper meanings and controversialtopics, two in particular being slavery and racism. Despite the usage of theword “nigger” and the stereotypical portrayal of African Americans, Ido not think schools have any justification in banning this book from readinglists. Mark Twain wrote Huck Finn during the Reconstruction period in the south,at a time when most Americans wanted to forget all about the institution ofslavery and its consequences.
However, Twain set the time period of this novelprior to the Civil War when slavery was at its peak. Thus, the racist views heincluded in the book mirrored the attitudes of most southerners during thistime. Those that say that Huck Finn is inappropriate to be read in schools arein effect saying that a portion of United States history should not be taught inthe classroom. Although slavery was one of the most horrific periods in ourcountries history, to make sure nothing of its caliber ever occurs again, wemust make sure every high school student is aware of the ramifications of suchpractices. By banning an important work in U.S.
history, these schools areignoring the racial sentiments of this time period simply because the languagein Huck Finn may not be appropriate. In addition, reading this novel hopefullyinvokes in people a sense of shame for the mistakes of our ancestors. Though thenovels language may offend some, it is Africans Americans and Caucasiansalike who are offended. Nobody likes to look at the word “nigger” norhear it used, however, we must accept that this word was at one time consideredappropriate language.
Reading the novel, I was repulsed by this word and mystomach churned as I read about the ignorance and hate stored within the heartsof characters. However, I enjoyed reading this novel and gained a newperspective of life prior to the Civil War. I think that when schools ban thenovel Huck Finn from their curriculum that they are in effect failing theirstudents. Huck Finn is an excellent piece of literature, rich with history,description, and unique perspectives. By not allowing this book to be read inschools is like shutting students out from a valuable learning experience. Yes,they can still read the novel in their spare time, but they are not afforded theprivilege to discuss this book openly in class or gain new perspectives into itsmeaning. In addition, when African Americans refuse to read this novel they aredepriving themselves of a experiencing a brilliant piece of literature.
I thinkthat until you try something, you cant attack it, or else you are showingyour ignorance and stubborn nature. Twain did not write this novel to belittlethe African American race or to promote the institution of slavery. Twain wrotethis novel to depict life in the South prior to the Civil War. Along with thisdepiction are the bias and racist attitudes prevalent in South at this time. Forall those school administrators who say that the language and ideology ofTwains writing is offensive, well, maybe Twain wanted to offend people withthis novel. Maybe he wanted to offend them so much that they would come to therealization that individuals should not conform to societys standards, one ofthese standards being slavery. Until someone is offended, status quo doesntchange.