Born to Trouble

June 3, 2011
By
"In the decades to come, may our schools give to our children the skills to navigate through life as gracefully as Huck navigated the Mississippi. And may they teach our students the same hatred of bigotry and love of their fellow men that Huck showed on every page, and especially in his love for his big friend Jim." Here is a quote by our 40th president, Ronald Reagan, that was inserted into the movie documentary, “Born to Trouble.” This documentary revolves around Mark Twain’s timeless classic “Huckleberry Finn” and how it is such a useful tool in even in today’s society. A woman named Kathy Monteiro claims that this novel is horribly racist and should be banned from schools. Her reasoning behind this is simply the fact that the word “n*****” is stated in the novel. The true purpose of Mark Twain’s novel was to help whites see the wrong in their mistreatment of blacks, not to bash them further, and this is exactly the message the scholars behind “Born to Trouble” are trying to send out.

Throughout the entire documentary, never once does it actually state what is the right answer, it just goes from argument to argument until the film ends. But even though no victor is shown, it is plain to see what the producer’s opinion on the matter is. This can be seen through the use of credibility of the people in the documentary. The first person to appear is Kathey Monteiro, creating the conflict for the film. Monteiro is a white woman who personally feels offended by the story of “Huckleberry Finn.” She believes the novel hurts black people with its racism. Although the book is extremely racist, it is not directing dislike to those of African decent; it is simply accurate text to the time period. If Twain were to remove the word “n*****” from his novel, all of the power and value to the novel would be lost. It was a word commonly used during that time period, so it only makes sense for him to use it in his novel. The fact that Monteiro gets so upset over this simple diction proves she has not even read the book, but only gazed at the words on the page. For this reason, Monteiro has no credibility, so the producers of the film use her as a tool to show that people who think this way often have a limited understanding of the text upon which they base their judgments.

In order to emphasize what they believe, the producers use highly credible people to give their side of the argument. The people they use are literary scholars who understand Mark Twain’s novel and have the skills to properly interpret its true purpose. These scholars have powerful arguments revealing their belief that “Huckleberry Finn” is intended for the purpose of ending, rather than enabling, racism. Not only are these people well-educated literary scholars, but also a majority of them are black, giving them the ultimate credibility in this matter. By choosing to have a seemingly uneducated white woman go up against powerful black literary scholars on a matter of racism against blacks in a book, it is clear whom the producers of the documentary agree with.





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