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In Flight
Forced Smiles
Happy Oblivion
Ducking Destiny
Chance of Showers
Chance Encounters
The Thinking Dog
The Race
Flight of the Ostrich
Monster Under My Bed
The Rose Garden
Window Shopping
Dramatic Romances
Musings on Nature
A Day at School
The Holy Light
A Rainy Night


The Roller Coaster
The Purse
Sammy's Lesson
The Legend of the Hungry Dragon
Spirits in the Night


My Philosophy of Life
Five Scholarship Questions
Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois
Prophets for God
My Service Project (1999-2000)
My Service Project (1997-1998)
The Beauty of the Forest
Reaching Beyond

The Pastry Menace
A College Just for You!
The Rights of Plants

Literary Analyses
Saving Harry:  Clearing the Controversy Over Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Essays on Wuthering Heights
The Creature in Frankenstein and the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
Edna's Decision in The Awakening
Character Comparison in Kate Chopin's The Awakening
Why The Chosen?

Research Papers
Race, Norms, and the Sidewalk
Analytical Exercise
The Validity of Comparing Governments
The British System: Legal-Rational Or Traditional?
The Importance of Framing
Madison on Factions
Spirituality and the Brain
Sea Water and Conductivity

Clinic Violence: A "Moral" Way to Bring About Change?
Graduation Speech
The Call to Relationship
Mark Twain Speaks Again (original version)
Mark Twain Speaks Again (shortened version)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Year 2000
Hunting for Sport?

Mercury Spill Exercise
Chocolate Feature Exercise
Character Sketch
Reaction Story
Aspiring Actress Profile
"Shark Attack" Exercise
Villa Maria Academy Hosts Diversity Panel

Coastal Vacation

The Controversy over The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been called the greatest American novel by many illustrious critics and authors, such as Ernest Hemingway. It made waves in the literary world by employing an uneducated narrator who recounts the entire story in his own peculiar dialect, rather than a conventional narrator who would always use proper grammar and syntax. It also is a biting criticism of the hypocrisy of the South. Finally, it is a story of the friendship and respect that develops between two people, one white and one black.

Despite all these positive aspects of Huck Finn, many people insist that it should not be taught in schools. They claim that the novel is racist and point out that a certain derogatory word is used throughout in reference to black people, which may make black readers feel uncomfortable. Worse, they insist that the book encourages racist attitudes. For these reasons, certain people believe that Huck Finn should not be taught in schools.

This attitude, while justified to a certain extent, overlooks too many important points. First of all, Mark Twain, in writing this novel, was attempting to portray the characters realistically. To do so, he had to use that word for African-Americans that people find offensive today, because it was the term commonly used at the time.

Secondly, while the book does portray racist attitudes, these attitudes belong to the Southerners that Twain is satirizing in the novel. Obviously, if these people are the object of his satire, Twain is not encouraging readers to be like them. Also, realism comes into play again here, because the plain fact is that most Southerners at the time were racists, as was almost everyone else in the country. To deny that these things existed at one time by banning the book would be to deny history and therefore learn nothing from it.

Finally, this novel is about the friendship that develops between Huck and Jim. Huck has racist attitudes at the beginning of the novel and is willing to play jokes on Jim with his friend Tom. By the end of the novel, Huck is, in his mind, risking spending eternity in hell by helping Jim to run away from his owner. More than this, Twain gives the character Jim, an African-American slave, great dignity and makes him the moral center of the novel. Jim may be uneducated, but he is wise and a true friend. He is always willing to help Huck, even when Huck tries to play tricks on him. He becomes a father figure to Huck, a stark contrast to Huck's white, abusive real father, the most terrible character in the novel.

Huck Finn is the great American novel. It deserves a prominent place among the books students read in school. As long as students are intelligent enough to know that the racist attitudes of some of the characters should not be emulated, the book poses absolutely no danger. Students should not be deprived of the experience of reading this wonderful novel because of a few negative aspects.

Copyright © 2002 Colleen Fischer | Last updated October 7, 2002