Keep it On the Shelves!
The Fight To Keep The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Alive
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a book of adventure, a book of playful satire and irony, and a book of our countrys history. Its most important purpose, however, is being a book to further the education of this nations young people. Despite the objections to this books use of foul language, its treatment of African Americans, and the veritable exposition of humanitys faults, it serves as a great learning tool for how accurately it depicts life in pre-Civil War America. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn should be read by and taught to todays students of appropriate age (approximately the age of junior students in high school).
Opponents of Huck Finn regard the novel as vulgar, particularly for its frequent use of the n-word. The use of that word may cause the novel to be considered as demeaning, especially to African Americans, at who the word is directed in the story. In the context of the story, however, the word is rarely used as a demeaning term, but rather as merely a reference to a person of the African American race. The use of the n-word was a move by Twain to give the novel historically accurate credibility, by using the language of the people at that time in America.
In 1885 the public library in Concord, Massachusetts, said that the novel lacks humor, has poor grammar, and presents experiences that are not very elevating (Censorship and Huck Finn worksheet). The reason for the poor grammar is not a fault on Mark Twains part, but rather a very accurate portrayal of the various dialects in the South at that time. In the beginning of the book, under a section labeled Explanatory (a humorous play on the word Explanation), Twain states: In this book a number of dialects are used, to wit: the Missouri negro dialect; the extremest form of the backwoods South-Western dialect; the ordinary Pike Country dialect; and four modified versions of this last. The shadings have not been done in a hap-hazard fashion, or by guess-work, but pains-takingly, and with the trustworthy guidance and support of personal familiarity with these several forms of speech, (Huck Finn, the very beginning). This explanatory gives us a clear view of Twains intentions on the use of bad grammar in the novel. It was not used as many mistakes with which to confuse the reader, but as a tool to accurately portray the conversations, beliefs, thoughts, schemes, and prayers of the people of that era, geographic location, and race.
The book serves as a great learning tool for its use of satire, symbolism, and its exposing of humanitys problems to the reader after insight into the book. Twain uses satire to expose how wrong slavery was through Huck, as Huck battles with his conscience and doing what is right (turning Jim in) or what is wrong (helping Jim escape to freedom). Hucks conscience is humorous in itself, seeing as how it is entirely backwards as to what Americans today and Twain would think was right and wrong. The book exposes the gullibility of humans through the escapades of the characters the king and the duke, as they frequently cheat or attempt to cheat people of their hard-earned money. For example, the king cheated the people at the revival by claiming to be a pirate from the Indian Ocean-turned-Christian man (Ch. 20). The people all believed the king and gave him a lot of their money to go rescue his other pirate friends. The book also exposes the violence of man through various violent acts in the novel such as the shooting of Boggs, the torture of Jim Turner on the wrecked steamboat, the murdering of Pap, and the shooting of Tom on the Phelps farm. Twain used the river as a symbol for freedom from civilization and peace, and the shore as a symbol for civilization, and all the violent acts that accompany it.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a great novel, and it would be a travesty for it to be completely or even partially banned in schools, libraries, or any institution, public or private. The novel provides an excellent snapshot of pre-Civil War America, and exposes many issues, both those of the past and those that still exist today. To take this book away from this nations students would be to tear away one of the great learning experiences of literature.