Video:Why Was Huck Finn Banned?with Jonathon Stewart
There are a few reasons why Huck Finn was banned in certain places. Here, see why Huck Finn up for debate.See Transcript
Transcript:Why Was Huck Finn Banned?Can one single word cause a book to be repeatedly banned and challenged? In another single word, yes, if that book is the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. From the time it was published and continuing even today, Mark Twain's famous work has been both lauded and reviled, and both because of the same issue... racism.
Information on the Huck Finn BanHuck Finn was one of the first major works of American literature to be written in the vernacular. From the moment it hit the shelves in 1885, the coarse language used within its pages put this book in the line of fire. Not until much later would the focus of those wishing to ban Huck Finn shift to that one particular word. Banned in the USA‚ by Herbert N. Foerstal lists the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as the fourth most banned book in our schools. However, it's also one of the most likely books to be included in a high school English curriculum. So why are the reactions to this book so divergent?
Other Information on the Huck Finn BanCritics say the use of the "N word" and the book's portrayal of the escaped slave, Jim, render Huck Finn both obscene and racist. Defenders of the book maintain it is actually anti-racist. They cite Twain's treatment of the subject matter and the titular character's growth throughout the course of the novel. Huck knows in his heart that slavery is wrong, contrary to what society has taught him, and Huck chooses to follow it.
Background to the Huck Finn BanTwain himself once remarked that Huck Finn was never meant for children. He also stated that he was extremely distressed upon discovering younger readers were being given access to the book. Twain's own opinion on the matter does beg the question of what is or isn't appropriate reading for high school English students. The debate rages on despite others saying that today's students have the ability to understand why certain words and situations are being used.
Whatever your opinion of the Adventures of Huckleberry Fin might be, one thing is certain, the book is a permanent fixture in literary history and isn't going anywhere anytime soon, even if they did rename that really cool island playground at Disneyland.
I'm Jonathon Stewart, with About.com.
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