Huckleberry Finn- My Take

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    Hello all! As we all know, the novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain has a lot of controversy surrounding it. And now, there's even more. In case you haven't heard already, there are new editions of the novel being released without the "n" word. A Twain scholar by the name of Alan Gribben will release a version of Huckleberry Finn along with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in a single volume. The "n" word and also the word "Injun" will be omitted.

     At first I wasn't sure how I would feel about this, but now, I've pretty much taken a side. I'm against it. First, did anyone get Mark Twain's permission to make those changes? Oh, that's right, you can't because he's dead. How does anyone know that Mark Twain would approve? Being a writer myself, I would not approve of anyone changing my work. Period.

     The argument is that the word is offensive. Well, it is. But isn't this the same word being thrown around by my generation and much younger? This is the same word that is repeated on track after track on rap/hip hop albums and in music videos. In the novel, Huckleberry Finn, it's supposed to be reflective of the time period. It actually serves a purpose.

      If parents are worried about their children reading the novel, then why not explain it to them? I don't suggest a twelve year old reading the novel, but a high school student around sixteen can certainly handle reading the "n" word in a specific context. I read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn when I was about fifteen. And there very well may be a point when a child comes into contact with the word before they even read the book. I was called the "n" word when I was eleven. I discovered its true meaning very early on. While I was offended and even hurt that a classmate would call me such a word (and only be suspended for two days), the word was used out of context.

     I've made the personal decision to not use the word. I don't believe it contributes to a progressive society, but I do believe that in the context of a novel that was supposed to reflect the history of America's slavery period, that it should stay. The word stings, yes. But isn't that what we want people to remember? People should feel uncomfortable and they should feel a sting when they read over that word in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Imagine how the slaves felt. When we look back on it we should realize just how far America has come.

How do you feel about this new controversy surrounding Huck Finn?

8 comments:

Nicole MacDonald said... .

It's glossing over things that really could be discussed. At some point people are going to have to stop the giant PC pendulum swinging too far the other way... might take a while though. The word 'injun' is in Laura Ingalls Wilder - are they going to remove it from there too??

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January 6, 2011 at 10:00 AM
Ghenet said... .

I agree with you. I don't use the "n" word either but think it's important that people understand its history and why it shouldn't be used.

You make a good point about the lack of author aproval. I wouldn't want someone to change my book either!

January 6, 2011 at 10:05 AM
traceybaptiste said... .

I just came across this post by a Horn Book editor who says that someone else tried to do it in the 80's. Of course I'm appalled that anyone would even attempt to PC-ize a classic, but this guy says it better than I ever could: http://readroger.hbook.com/2011/01/take-it-from-old-stage-manager.html

January 6, 2011 at 10:19 AM
Julie said... .

I completely agree that this book signifies the time period and that is why the language should not be changed. Again, you are right, people should be uncomfortable and it is an indication of how far we have come as a Nation. Classics are classics for a reason. Leave it alone!

January 6, 2011 at 10:37 AM
Marquita Hockaday said... .

Now you know I have a lot to say about this. This word was normal historically for referring to Africans and African Americans. I find it a little insane that someone is trying to change it b/c now it makes the book so much more inaccurate. And, yes, don't forget that MT isn't here to give his approval.

I used the word a few times in my manuscript simply because it was normal to demonstrate disgust in 1918. I don't feel like I should have to change it.

January 6, 2011 at 10:39 AM
Pam Harris said... .

Wow, that was poignant!! I didn't know where I stand on the issue at first. I'm a writer and I believe in freedom of speech, but I'm also black and have been called the "n" word in grade school. After much thought, I'm on the same page as you. You can't change someone's words, especially if it served a true purpose in the context of the story. I agree, parents and teachers should educate students about the connotations of this word. Knowledge is the only thing that can kill ignorance.

January 6, 2011 at 11:27 AM
Racquel Henry said... .

Thanks for the comments everyone. I really appreciate you all taking the time to read something that I believe is so important. Pam, that's a real comment coming from you. :)
January 11, 2011 at 10:29 AM

R.J. Edwards said... .

This is so wrong. Instead of teaching coming generations people just want to sweep ugliness under the rug and pretend it never existed. Ignorance helps no one.

January 11, 2011 at 10:32 AM

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