Critical Thinking

Mark of discovery. Because Huck is so young

            Mark Twain’s novel, The
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, should be banned and removed from every
library and every school in America!  Yes,
many critics have praised this novel for its accurate representation of life
during slavery, its use of colloquial language, and its honest portrayal of a
dysfunctional family.  However, the
demeaning and racist attitudes towards African Americans, its vulgar and
ungrammatical language, and incorrect morals makes this a morally inappropriate
book for students and others to read.  Although
many people might not find this book offensive, young high school students
should not be reading a story where a young boy is beaten by his father, where
people attack one another, and above all else where they continually refer to a
slave with the n-word.  Such concepts
make many people uncomfortable and do not offer a positive moral lesson.  As such, this book should be banned.

            Since it was first published, this book
has been taught in schools because of its accurate representation of life along
the Mississippi River prior to the Civil War.   The book is also acknowledged for its use of
satire, and the unique narrative technique wherein a 13-year-old boy, Huck,
recounts in the first person his story of living on a raft with a runaway
slave.  The humor and the stories in the
novel are recounted by Huck as they happen, helping to give the novel a sense
of discovery.  Because Huck is so young
and can’t comprehend all that is happening he tells the reader the truth of
everything giving specific details of what he experienced.  In addition, the novel truthfully portrays the
issue of slavery prior to the Emancipation Proclamation.  Although the novel portrays this issue very
well, it depicts slavery with too much racism.

            Despite these qualities of the book,
other features make the book morally wrong and inappropriate to be in schools
and libraries.  The language throughout
the novel, especially the frequent use of the n-word, is pejorative and
offensive.  Further, many of the words in
the book are misspelled, such as “sivilization.”  The use of a dialect often gives the words a
misleading and humorous pun, for example, when describing Pap’s dead body “diseased”
is used for the word deceased.  In
addition, Mark Twain’s use of satire to poke fun at religion and the government
is sometimes taken to the extreme and can lead children to misunderstand the
story. Although his satire is used to make light of a situation, many people
could take offense with some of the things that he satirizes in the novel.  Finally, the language used to describe Jim, a
slave, is offensive.  Jim is often
described as a childish kid who is stupid and acts stupid at unreasonable
times.  At one point when Tom is shot in
the leg, Jim tells Huck they must find a doctor.  And later Huck concludes that Jim acted nobly
and says that Jim must be “white inside”. This leads me to my point on racism
in the book.

The racism throughout the story should never
be written in a respectable book, and even worse in a book that is meant to be read
by students in schools.  Huck plays a lot
of tricks on Jim; for example, when he puts a snake in Jim’s bed while he
sleeps.  Huck finds this to be funny.  Also, Huck uses the n-word as if it is part of
his daily diction and has no idea that it isn’t funny to use this word,
especially around a slave as it gives off a negative and derogatory connotation.
 People might say that it is acceptable
to use the n-word in the book because it was commonly used at the time.  But, we have no idea whether or not Jim is
upset and even if he tells Huck to stop, Huck would think it was funny and would
start laughing.  Mark Twain also portrays
Jim as an illiterate who doesn’t even know how to speak English such as when
Jim says: “it’s a blame ridicklous way, en I doan’ want to hear no mo’ ’bout
it. Dey ain’ no sense in it.” In the article, Chester Stevens believes rightly that
this book is a, “nightmare for parents of black children,” because of the
racial slurs and the negative portrayal of black people.

Finally, this book should be banned from
schools for its immoral values.  During
the course of the story, Huck steals money from others, lies to everyone he
talks with, and participates in criminal and unethical activities which Mark
Twain portrays as okay to do.  At the end
of the novel, Huck ends the book saying that he wants to begin another
adventure so that he can avoid being “sivilized” by Aunt Sally, who intends to
adopt him. As a thirteen-year-old boy, he should not be going on adventures
like these with people he barely knows.  Huck would rather go around acting
uncivilized, stealing stuff, and being rude rather than being a normal kid
playing with his friends. These moral lessons are terrifying and should not be
passed on to people who are reading the book, especially students in high
school.

In conclusion, The Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn, is not and will never be appropriate for high school
curriculums.  The only reason to include
such a book in a school’s curriculum would be to analyze the satire that Mark
Twain uses.  However, the vulgar
language, the racism, and the acceptance of immoral values overwhelms any gain
that a student might receive analyzing the book’s satire.  We need to ban this novel from every library and
school in America.