Huck Finn Essay
Question: Should the word “nigger” be censored and replaced with the word “slave” in the newly published editions of Huck Finn? Defend or Reject claim Ernest Hemingway once said, “all modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain, called Huckleberry Finn:” However, Huck Finn has had its share of controversy. There has been an ongoing debate to whether or not schools should continue to teach Huck Finn because of the obvious racial components and the constant use of the word “nigger”. This word has evolved to be very hurtful and very sensitive to African-Americans and the constant repetition of this word in the novel causes teachers and students alike to be uncomfortable. A southern publishing company has censored versions of Huck Finn, and replaced the “nigger” with “slave”. Mark Twain’s seminal novel Huck Finn should not be censored because Huck Finn depicts the period’s authentic bigotry and removing the word “nigger” detracts from a full understanding of the time period. Twain employed in a satirical vein, which seeks to expose the hypocrisy of Southern racism. In one passage, for example, Huck arrives at the Phelps’ farm and observes an explosion aboard a riverboat and Mrs. Phelps asks to whether anyone was killed. Huck replies, to Ms.Phelps’ relief that no one was seriously injured, “just a nigger.” Here, Twain is critiquing a Southern society that would deny African Americans their common humanity—and the word slave does not really have the same bite. Additionally, substituting the word “slave” makes it sound as though all the offense lies in the “n-word” and has nothing to do with the institution of slavery. When Huckleberry Finn was published, Mark Twain appended a note on his effort to reproduce “painstakingly” the dialects in the book, including several backwoods dialects and “the Missouri negro dialect.” He acknowledges that he thoroughly researched and knew the true dialects of the region and what makes Huck Finn...
Cited: Carey-Webb, Allen. "Racism and "Huckleberry Finn": Censorship, Dialogue, and Chang." The English Journal 82.7 (1992): 22-34. JSTOR. Web. 9 Feb. 2011.
Nelson, Jill. "The Word 'Nigger ' Is Part of Our Lexicon - Room for Debate - NYTimes.com." The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. Web. 11 Feb. 2011. .
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