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Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is indisputably an American classic. Tackling themes such as intellectual and moral education, the hypocrisy of a “civilized” society, and racism, the novel is a timeless depiction of one period in history. There is no doubt in my mind why this novel is a classic or why Mark Twain is a celebrated author. Not all share my opinion, however, and the book has been banned in schools across the nation and has even been called in reviews a “racist piece of trash.”

As you may or may not know, NewSouth Books recently published a politically correct version of the novel. In an effort to make it more widely accepted, the publisher removed the n-word (which appears 219 times) and replaced it with “slave.”

The reason for this is certainly not misunderstood. The banning of the book and most of its criticisms stem from the use of this one word. However, while I am certainly not in favor of using offensive language in everyday speech or for the purpose of offending, it is important to remember that this novel was written at a very different time.

In Missouri in 1885, it would have been strange not to use this word. And as it is taught now, as a realistic representation of the post-war South, I think it is hugely inappropriate to remove the word. Twain’s use was not random or thoughtless, it was deliberate. In this case, to remove it is not just wrong; it is disrespectful.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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JustAnotherOwl said...
Feb. 13, 2012 at 3:25 pm:
I agree with this! We're reading this right now in my American Lit. class and while I do find the n word offensive, and I don't use language like that myself, I think it's necessary to fully understand the book and the time period it takes place in.
 
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da1sygirl said...
Aug. 10, 2011 at 9:51 pm:
I agree with your view point and do not believe in banning books from could-be readers. Good article
 
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