Huckleberry Finn--Masterpiece or Insult

March 21, 2011
Experts say that people learn in three different ways: by listening, seeing, but mostly by experiencing. Mark Twain's classic, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, has become a controversial issue throughout American education systems. There is much controversy over whether the novel should be taught in American high-schools; for there is a belief that the novel promotes racial attitudes, while others see it as a good depiction of life in the 1800s. For that reason, what better way to learn, than through experience about the racial contentions that occurred in American history before the Civil War. While Twain’s notorious novel may have some offensive racial slurs, it is, in short, appropriate for the classroom setting, and should continue to be taught in the public school system.
The novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a snapshot into the old wild west of America. It exemplifies the spirit of the South and portrays it as most saw it; be it racist or not. The biggest problem with the book is the use of the word ‘nigger’ and the racism in it. Those who prohibit their students to read this novel, do not seem to comprehend that though it is fiction, it is set in a real time period, and its characters and their actions could have easily been based on actual people and events. Racism is not the focus of the book; the book is based on, as the book’s title so bluntly puts it, the adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The racism in the book is only background information, but it is still very important; especially considering if it were left out then Twain would be giving a false account of life before the American Civil War. One thing worse than slavery is trying to ignore it and forget it ever happened, but even more terrible would be to sugarcoat it and make slavery and racism seem more like a mere footnote in American history, and in doing so making it seem insignificant, when really it is extremely important and something everyone needs to learn about, but to be approached in the correct and appropriate way.
33% of people learn best by seeing and comprehending a concept by observing the realistic effects; when readers can step back and see the incredible friendship between a white boy that comes from the lowest of the low class and a black slave, they can better understand that race simply does not matter. Huck treated Jim with more respect than anyone else; even other slaves were more racist toward each other than Huck was toward Jim. After all, Huck remembers Jim and their friendship with warmth. He imagines Jim not as a slave, but as a human being. For those who choose to ‘selectively read’ the book do not realize that Huck was not wasn’t being racist at all, he just didn’t know any better. In actual, the relationship between Huck and Jim is quite unbelievable and shows a transformation that gives a different point of view in American history.

Suppose you live in a place with a considerable amount of racism, how do you teach in context to the events that occurred when America was particularly racist towards blacks and slavery was very prevalent? As mentioned before, people learn best through experiencing, the book The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was written in the time and shows how slavery once existed. Reading this book can respectfully bring up the painful past of America, creating a safe environment for discussion of the subject. Especially now where the word ‘nigger’ is considered “politically incorrect” teachers can carefully talk about what the word used to mean and the meaning it has taken on now, which can clear up many of the problems most people have with the book. In doing this, people can much better understand the difference between what Twain wrote, and what Twain meant.

By experiencing the great works of this book and learning in context of the culture of the South, students have the pleasure to enjoy one of America’s most prominent authors, Mark Twain, and grow as a individual from the morals and lessons embedded in this book. Whereas Twain’s contentious Adventures of Huckleberry Finn may have some insulting racial remarks, it is considered to be one of the greatest pieces of American literature for the perfect embodiment of the spirit of the south, and for the remarkable companionship between the low class Huck and the escaped slave, Jim; and lastly for the great opportunity of discussion of the topic of race, that can be very rewarding if approached in the right way, which is exactly why it should continued to be taught in schools.

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jsell123 said...
Apr. 7, 2011 at 8:39 am
um...why would you write about this book? i hate this boook.......................................
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