For decades, Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” has spurred many controversies because of its offensive language, bad grammar, and racial bias. Some schools have even banned it from being taught; despite the benefits that one receives from it. When read to the right audience, one could learn from the harsh dialect, the use of satire, and the historical setting. However, because of the more advanced components of this book, “The Adventures of Huck Finn” should only be taught to high-school seniors in advanced English classes.
One of the most popular reasons as to why “The Adventures of Huck Finn” is banned in some schools is because of the use of offensive language such as the “n” word and other racist comments and actions, mostly when referring to Jim, the runaway slave. In an article written by Allen Webb, he states, “…it was clear that hearing the word come out of my mouth made my African American…students bristle.
” Because of the book’s constant use of the term and other instances of racism such as when Huck takes advantage of Jim’s gullibility and lack of education, tricking him with a snake skin, and later tries to convince him that a series of dramatic events were a dream, which both confuses and upsets Jim, makes teaching the book very difficult, no matter how sensitive one will attempt to be. For this reason, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” should not be taught anywhere except in advanced senior English classes.
As an advanced student, the level of maturity tends to be higher and the curriculum consists of a more broad and difficult selection, preparing the students for any style or type of writing. When hearing the use of a term such as the “n” word, most of these students will see it as a term to portray the time period and evoke strong emotions from the audience instead of taking it to offense. While the controversies that the offensive language stirs up are understandable, “The Adventures of Huck Finn” should be taught for the opportunity to discuss topics such as racism and to learn from Twain’s unique writing style.
Without the opportunity to read “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” students would lose the chance to experience Twain’s use of satirical humor and a historical setting and dialect. In an interview with Nancy Methelis, she says that “The Adventures of Huck Finn” “…is a part of American history as American literature, so they can see it its place within the spectrum of literature and history. ” The book lends a realistic depiction of life during the times of slavery and helps to more understand the feelings and struggles of African Americans. Also throughout the book is a heavy use of satire.
For example, Miss Watson attempts to become and better Christian, yet she owns slaves and considers them her property. Another instance is when Pap becomes outraged at the thought of a black man being able to vote even though the black man is more educated that him. Twain uses the tool of irony and satire to poke fun at the idea of white supremacy and uses his writing style to portray the flaws in society. By reading “The Adventures of Huck Finn,” one can build their reading skill by deciphering Twain’s style and can also experience an accurate description of pre-Civil War life.
In conclusion, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” should be taught in advanced senior classes only to ensure the students are mature enough to handle the complex aspects of the book such as the harsh language and literary tools. Although some might believe that the book is offensive and better off banned, I believe that the benefits one will receive from reading “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” such as realistic depictions of history and fine examples of American literature, are much too valuable.