Based in the 1830s, the novel Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain portrays a young, southern, boy aiding a runaway slave in his journey to freedom. During this time period, racial slurs and racism were extremely apparent. Today, these racial slurs have been the focus of controversy amongst many readers. So much so, that a book has been published that has removed the word “nigger” and replaced it with “slave”. Many teachers and bibliophiles have argued whether this should be done. One side argues that the slur should not be taken out because it would take away the true meaning and realism of the book. Others debate that it makes people uncomfortable and prevents them from reading this great piece of American literature.
The people who believe that the original text should be edited, focus their discontent on the racial tone of the language. The fact that the racial insult makes many people feel uncomfortable, is one of the main reasons they feel that way. In the article by Philip Rawls, the scholar Alan Gribben says, “’It’s a shame that one word should be a barrier between a marvelous reading experience and a lot of readers’”(Rawls 1). That is exactly what people feel the word “nigger” is in Huckleberry Finn. It acts as a barrier for people who find it uncomfortable to read, and prevents them from comprehending the writing. In the article “Huck Finn goes clean in new publication” by AniecaAyler, an English teacher expresses why she doesn’t think its ok to use the word. “… When you’re using slurs – racial slurs, gender slurs, homosexuality slurs – I think you’re victimizing people” (Ayler 3). It is very true that blacks in America could get offended if you say the word in a classroom or they read it in the novel. It probably reminds them of the hard times their ancestors went through or puts them into a stereotype that they don’t think they belong in. It is very easy for people to become uncomfortable with an insult like the word in Huck Finn. The English teacher in...
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