In this modern day and age, everything offends someone. Eating at Chick-fil-A hurts the LGBT community, going to see the latest Adam Sandler movie gets the Jewish mad at you- so why is it surprising that Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is being changed to please people? Whether they be teachers, students, black or white, there need be no change in Huck Finn. And if any change were to be made- that would be censorship. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn portrays a message that cannot be missed about the racist ideals of society at that time.
Using demeaning words like “nigger” and “injun” serve purpose in Twain’s work. His repetition of ugly phrases like those show just how ugly community values were back then. In Source B, Gribben admits to changing those words to more family friendly terms, specifically “slave” and “Indian”. Those are not always correct, though. Often times, “nigger” is used from one African American to the other, to show an acceptance of brotherhood and a communal understanding of struggle. The replacement of “slave” is not correct in this case, or in others.
“Slave” is defined as a person who is property of another. This is not accurate either, considering Jim, the main African American character in the book, ran away from his owner and no longer held that specific job. Even if he were still a slave, the correction would not be correct at all. African Americans were never kindly titled “slave”. They were spit at, and the harsh use of the word “nigger” slapped them across the face like it does to students across the country who read it now (Source D).
Taking away Twain’s most purposefully placed word completely takes away from his message. Without the original vocabulary, society cannot learn the important message that Twain is trying to teach. Twain’s use of “nigger” is like a whole new form of imagery. Many students shift uncomfortably in their desks when they hear it out loud, some will even go as far as claiming to hate the book because of the tense and demeaning language (Source A). This is what Twain wanted.
The use of “nigger” has not changed at all over the years, and ignoring it would be equivalent to ignoring an entire chapter of our history books, one that very much defined our country. The poster-word for the discrimination of African Americans is “nigger”, therefore Huck Finn would be ripped of its historical accuracy if the word were removed. Twain wants reders to empathize with the book’s victims, because only then would his readers be able to understand the harsh pain of the word. Twain’s message is simple: “nigger” is not okay.
But there is no other way to prove this than to force it upon the reader. Twain was and continues to be a literary genius. His willingness to take a chance and make a reader empathize and feel something is what makes his book such a learning experience. Stripping the book of its most infamous word, “nigger”, cowards away from its most obvious message. If everything mildly offensive was censored, there would be nothing left to read. So instead of complaining about history, enjoy the beauty of Twain’s book, buy some Chick-fil-A, and the rent the newest Adam Sandler movie- before it’s too late.
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