Some people feel that The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is a disgrace to American Literature and that it should not be a requirement for high school students. They feel that the number of times the word “Nigger” is used is uncalled for.
The Concord Public Library Staff states, “All Huck Finn is, is a racist book more suited for the slums than for intelligent people,” and many others feel the same way(Concord Public Library). However, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a novel dealing with racism, conflicts of society vs. what one truly believes, and a dysfunctional family; therefore it should not be removed from high school English curriculum.
Racism occurs on almost every page of the novel. Huck Finn takes place in the 1880’s when slavery and the thought that all blacks are worthless and stupid stood strong. Although many people believe this novel should be taken of the curriculum because of the high amount of racism, it teaches a valuable lesson and is good for the students to read. Reading about this racism is good for teens because it shows them how hurt blacks are when they are a victimized. For example, several times in the novel a white person states, “Ain’t nothing but a nigger”(Townspeople). As time went on from the 1880’s racism shrunk and shrunk, but with all the terror groups and horrible attacks it is surely becoming an issue again. Many teens today are taught to hate Palestinian and Iraqi people just because the major leaders of these terror groups are from those places.
Having racism throughout this novel allows teens to see things how they were, and realize how much being prejudice can hurt one person.
Throughout Huck Finn, Huck faces several conflicts of society vs. what one truly believes. It is so important that teens realize what is truly rite is not always what society claims as being rite. Huck is taught by his father and Miss Watson to hate blacks and to never befriend one. When he runs away from his father and ends up on the Island he meets Jim(Miss Watson’s runaway slave). As the novel goes on Huck starts seeing a person in Jim and not just a thing that serves you. At one point on the island Jim and Huck get separated by fog for several hours, when they finally are reunited Huck convinces Jim that it was all a dream and they were never separated. Jim realizes Huck has fooled him once again and is very hurt by it, he tells him how ashamed he is of him and how much that hurt him and then walks off without saying another word. Huck then
exclaims, “ It made me feel so mean I could almost kissed his foot to get him to take it back. It was 15 minutes before I could work myself up to go and numble myself to a nigger; but I done it, and I warn’t ever sorry for it afterward, neither. I didn’t do him no more mean tricks and I wouldn’t done that one if I’d ‘a’ knowed it would make him feel that way.”(Huck,86) By Huck saying that, it shows that he is realizing Jim is a human just like him, with feelings, and that he is truly sorry for playing mean tricks on him and treating him any differently than he would a white man. Huck shows his realizations a few other times throughout the novel. At one point, a man searching for runaway slaves stops Huck and Jim’s raft looking for a slave. Huck shoves them away by saying his father was on the raft laying down because he had a case of small pox.
Huck knew that saying that to the men was the only way to save his best friend Jim and he knew it was the right choice, but part of him felt like he should have sold Jim out to the men an done what would have been rite to society. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a good novel for teens to read because these conflicts of society vs. what one truly believes teaches people the lesson that what society teaches you is not always right, what is always right, is making yourself feel satisfied and good inside and out.
Dysfunctional families have been around forever, even though back in the 1880’s only the happy families were portrayed dysfunctional ones still existed. Huck had a very dysfunctional family life…if you would even call it that. This is another reason why keeping this novel in the curriculum is a wise choice. Huck’s father was a drunk man that left him alone when he was younger.
When Huck is left by his drunken father he is taken in by Miss Watson. She is a caring and loving lady but expects the boy to be the perfect child. Dysfunctional family lives form the child, and therefore Huck was into doing any wrong he could get his hands on. Once Huck’s dad hears he has money, he comes and kidnaps Huck from Miss Watsons house, beats him brutally and locks him in a room.
Huck lives his childhood with no really parental guardian or advisor and this starts to get to him. He runs away from being beaten with his father and that is where he finds Jim. If he had a normal childhood family, there would be no adventures and no stories. The family aspect of this novel shows people how much a loving family molds a wonderful child and how a dysfunctional family molds a rebel.
Overall the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn , should not be removed from the high school English cirriculum. The fact that Mark Twains novel shows its readers the seriousness of racism, the important matter of knowing that sometimes society isn’t always right and that it is normal to have conflicts of society vs. what one truly believes, and how a dysfunctional family, like Huck’s, molds a child’s life is an impressing thing. People who can get over the fact that the word “Nigger” is used continuously throughout the novel will get the chance to experience a thrilling and exciting story about the adventurous Huckleberry Finn.