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Sat Jun 20, 2020, 06:57 AM

How long before the junior morality police head for the libraries to burn "Huckleberry Finn"?

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

{snip}

Controversy

In his introduction to The Annotated Huckleberry Finn, Michael Patrick Hearn writes that Twain "could be uninhibitedly vulgar", and quotes critic William Dean Howells, a Twain contemporary, who wrote that the author's "humor was not for most women". However, Hearn continues by explaining that "the reticent Howells found nothing in the proofs of Huckleberry Finn so offensive that it needed to be struck out".

Much of modern scholarship of Huckleberry Finn has focused on its treatment of race. Many Twain scholars have argued that the book, by humanizing Jim and exposing the fallacies of the racist assumptions of slavery, is an attack on racism. Others have argued that the book falls short on this score, especially in its depiction of Jim. According to Professor Stephen Railton of the University of Virginia, Twain was unable to fully rise above the stereotypes of black people that white readers of his era expected and enjoyed, and, therefore, resorted to minstrel show-style comedy to provide humor at Jim's expense, and ended up confirming rather than challenging late-19th century racist stereotypes.

In one instance, the controversy caused a drastically altered interpretation of the text: in 1955, CBS tried to avoid controversial material in a televised version of the book, by deleting all mention of slavery and omitting the character of Jim entirely.

{snip}

In 2009, a Washington state high school teacher called for the removal of the novel from a school curriculum. The teacher, John Foley, called for replacing Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with a more modern novel. In an opinion column that Foley wrote in the Seattle Post Intelligencer, he states that all "novels that use the N-word' repeatedly need to go." He states that teaching the novel is not only unnecessary, but difficult due to the offensive language within the novel with many students becoming uncomfortable at "just hear[ing] the N-word." He views this change as "common sense," with Obama's election into office as a sign that Americans "are ready for a change," and that by removing these books from the reading lists, they would be following this change.

In 2016, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was removed from a public school district in Virginia, along with the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, due to their use of racial slurs.

{snip}

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Reply How long before the junior morality police head for the libraries to burn "Huckleberry Finn"? (Original post)
mahatmakanejeeves Jun 20 OP
sinkingfeeling Jun 20 #1
Sherman A1 Jun 20 #2
NurseJackie Jun 20 #3
Sherman A1 Jun 20 #4
NurseJackie Jun 20 #5
cyclonefence Jun 20 #6
WhiskeyGrinder Jun 20 #7
JonLP24 Jun 20 #8
fishwax Jun 20 #9

Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Sat Jun 20, 2020, 07:03 AM

1. We continue to deny our racist history.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Sat Jun 20, 2020, 07:54 AM

2. There is a huge difference in understanding our

shared past through books, schools, museums, courses and research which we should all have done and glorifying those parts of our past which were failures of judgment and greed with statues under the guise of history.

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Response to Sherman A1 (Reply #2)

Sat Jun 20, 2020, 07:56 AM

3. Yes. Thank you.

Perfect response.

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Response to NurseJackie (Reply #3)

Sat Jun 20, 2020, 07:58 AM

4. My pleasure



I believe that what we see now is long overdue. The statues of confederate leaders should have never been put up. The bases should have never been named after those who took up arms against the United States and should be renamed immediately ( my preference is for using the names of Union Generals and particularly W.T. Sherman for the one in Georgia to drive the point home that the war and the lost cause narrative are over, both were lost).

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Response to Sherman A1 (Reply #4)

Sat Jun 20, 2020, 08:35 AM

5. Or, heroes from the American Revolution.... OR....

... follow the example set when Moody Air Force Base was named to honor a contemporary hero: a pilot who gave his life when testing new aircraft.

https://www.airforcemag.com/article/namesakes-george-moody/

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Sat Jun 20, 2020, 08:42 AM

6. Some works of art must be taught

before they are presented to young readers.

There is a mistaken belief among some, maybe many, people that because a book is about a child, the book is intended for very young readers.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Sat Jun 20, 2020, 09:01 AM

7. There was a discussion in the town I live near about getting rid of Huck Finn from the curriculum

because of the slurs. The push came from the Black kids and their families; they knew enough about racism in the present day that reading the n-word over and over again and following the two characters as they encounter different racist people wasn't necessarily engaging or helpful. I think the book is outdated, myself, and not something that will regularly get the vigor and critical reading it needs in the average classroom.

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Response to WhiskeyGrinder (Reply #7)

Sat Jun 20, 2020, 09:03 AM

8. I agree

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Sat Jun 20, 2020, 10:16 AM

9. removing it from the curriculum isn't the same as banning it

Without a doubt, Huck Finn is an important and influential novel in the history of American literature. But it's hardly the case that it's uniquely suited or appropriate for a curricular role.

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