Huckleberry Finn Language Analysis

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Understanding the way that African Americans were treated during slavery is an important part of history today. Huckleberry Finn, a book written by Mark Twain, tells a story about a boy helping a slave escape to the north where the free states are. Much controversy has been brought up because of this book’s harsh language. The n-word appears 219 times in the text; where it is used towards a single person or a group of slaves. People have taken action in changing the n-word in the book to a word that is less offensive. The word that was chosen was slave; this word still had brought forth the effect the author wanted, but in a less amount than the n-word. However, the NAACP states that using the n-word in the book shows how slaves were being…show more content…
However, some disagree that the book is too controversial to be taught in schools, but it is important for students to learn about the ideas of racism in the south during the time period of Huck Finn. As slavery becomes a more of a common topic to be taught, students overlook the saddening truth that is behind the language used at this time. The n-word was considered a major insult and today can still make someone very upset. However, Judge Stephen Reinhardt stated in one of his rulings about racist comments that it is, “a necessary component of any education is learning to think critically about offensive ideas without that ability, one can do little to respond to them”. He is saying in order to stop the use of this harsh word adolescents need to learn about the deep meaning behind the n-word. Students have to understand the power of the word they use in their everyday lives; whether it is in a rap song or they say it towards their friends as a friendly name. By reading Huck Finn students will begin to see how these harsh words affect others. An article written by Peaches Henry states the ideas that “if we fail to challenge established ways of knowing, contrast viewpoints, and broaden perspectives we fail to do our job”. If teachers do not allow students to think in many different viewpoints, then they are not…show more content…
Others believe that the n-word is a major issue for the book, however throughout Twain’s writing he shows other issues during this time period. The n-word has become the main focus as to why certain people do not want the book to be read in schools. They miss all the other reasons that Huckleberry Finn is an important book for teenagers to read. These issues being, the ideas of, “treatment of women, for instance, about its effect on women students, and the overwhelming male orientation of our curriculum” (Henry). People overlook the whole effect of the book and only focus on one main issue and that would be racism. Racism is a huge theme of Huckleberry Finn, however, other issues are shown that are essential to understanding the meaning behind the book. By teaching Huckleberry Finn in schools students, “develop their own critical thinking about literature, racism, and the literary canon” (Henry). Teaching such a controversial book students start to pick up their own beliefs about these certain issues. Some kids might be against the book, however, if they did not read Huck Finn they would not know for sure how they felt about racism. Yes the book can offend some people, but without reading Huckleberry Finn students do not get a sense of challenging the ways that they are taught to believe by their parents and
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