Should the “N” Word be Replaced With Slave In Huck Finn?

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Mark Twain’s, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, is a well-known American classic. This book is loved and hated. Loved for its satire, and tone, hated for the over use of the word, Nigger. Many people look down upon Twain’s use of the “n” word, and say that it should be replaced with the word slave. Although the “n” word may give offense to some, replacing it would be wrong and offensive to Mark Twain. This has created conflict that has not been solved entirely yet, because many people are very judgmental towards the meaning of this word today.

Alan Gribben, a professor of English at Auburn University said that he solved the problem of racial conflict by taking out the “n” word and replacing it with slave. In doing, this Gribben has done a huge offense to Twain. Twain was not doing anything wrong at all; he was simply using the word that fit into the dialogue for his time. In his day and age, everyone used the “n” word, even the blacks themselves. Today though, blacks are easily offended by the use of the “n” word, but say it all the time. If they were all right with it then, why aren’t they now? Would blacks prefer to be called a slave in the book instead? No, they would not.

People are always going to find something that offends them in a book, whether it is the language the book uses, actions that the characters do, or their thoughts. No one is satisfied. Everyone has an opinion, and that is what makes a book popular. That is how a book becomes a masterpiece. Not everyone is going to like a book, but that does not mean that we have the right to take out the ‘rude comments’ in every single book. If someone does not like a book then they should not read it. There are times though when one will read a book and not quite understand the meaning behind the words used, like in Huckleberry Finn. Twain uses a lot of satire in his books, many people do not recognize the satire in Mark Twains writing, and are easily offended by his humor, not knowing its satire. It is not our decision whether we change Twain’s book or not, it is his.

Removing the “n” word cannot change the past and never will, although some people think that it can soothe things over with the black people. This word can be offensive but it is appropriate for depicting the slave’s painful background. It allows people to look beyond the color and see blacks as our equals, because there are still racist people in America and many people aren’t raised to be ‘color blind’ like others. With out this word how can we know what it was like to live as a slave, and truly know what being a slave felt like? Do the black people even know what it was like to be a slave? Most likely not. But then again how can they? They were not there when the slaves were abused, they know just as much as we do; and yet they are still offended by a word that was used almost a century ago.

If anyone is offended it’s Mark Twain. He wrote the book, he should be the one to decide Huckleberry Finn’s fate. This book has done more for the American people than we know. It has given us insight on what people’s lives were actually like back in Huck’s time, how they acted towards slaves and each other; and what it was like to grow up in an environment where slaves were everywhere. H.L. Mencken said, “… I believe that Mark Twain has a clearer vision of life, and that he came nearer to its elementals and was less deceived by its false appearances that any other American who has ever presumed to manufacture generalizations…” Mark Twain knew what kind of effect his book would leave on the American people. It left us hungry and wanting more of his work. What Mark Twain did not know, was that the effect would be wasted on something like the feud of replacing the “n” word with slave. Mark Twain would leave the “n” word in Huckleberry Finn, and we should too in honor of his astounding American classic.





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