The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, written by Mark Twain, takes place during the antebellum era, and revolves around a young boy, named Huck. The antebellum era was the years right before the Civil War, so Huck was living in a dark and murky time in American History. Huck starts off by living with The Widow Douglas and her sister, Miss Watson, who is trying to “civilize” him or make him to be what the perfect child should look like and make him act how a perfect child should act. Huck does not want that.
He just wants to live how he wants, just like most youth want. In the novel, Huckleberry Finn befriends a runaway slave, Jim, and his adventures begin. According to Dennis Puopard, Mark Twain exposed many of the dark problems of antebellum United States. Some say Mark Twain wrote this episodic novel as a boys’ adventure story and that Huck is a character that children should look up to. (422) Modern readers do not see Huckleberry Finn as a children’s book because the book is racist, there a themes of lying, and characters object and criticize authority.
Because, modern readers see the book as improper for children The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is on the banned books list on many school in the United States. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn there are racial slurs, lies, and profanity. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is not a children’s book in today’s society because of the prominent theme of race. The topic of race and racism is strong in today’s society. If a modern American citizen uses racial slurs against another race in a hurtful way that citizen would be convicted with a criminal offense.
A racial slur such as the word “nigger” is not tolerable today’s society. The word “nigger” was used to belittle and dehumanize African American slaves, such as Jim, in antebellum United States. Through out the book, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, author Mark Twain includes racial slurs such as the word, “nigger” toward African American characters, such as Jim and other slaves. “‘Good gracious! anybody hurt? ‘ ‘No’m. Killed a nigger. ‘ ‘Well, it’s lucky; because sometimes people do get hurt.
‘”( Twain 109). This quote shows how the white society views Jim different then themselves. They view Jim as property rather than a human with a living breathing heart. This dialoged between two white characters just shows how hurtful and cruelly someone can sound just by taking. Barbra L. Jackson professor at Fordham University in New York City says, “It is hard to teach The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in a diverse class because of its racial views. ” (63).
If a college professor has a hard time teaching the book, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, to her class, how can it be easy for high school students who are studding the novel, or even young boys whom pick up the book and start reading it? Also, Barbra L. Jackson says, “I always see a lack in participation, when studying the book, … the students do not want to read out loud,” (64). The students do not feel right saying “nigger” out loud because they do not want to offend any of their classmates.
The students know that the word, “nigger” is a taboo in modern society. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn should not be taught or read to children because of the racial slurs. The type of racial language that Mark Twain uses in the book is offensive and crude. The exposure of the racial slurs to young children would be harmful. The young children will think it is okay to say the new words they discover from reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which would get them into trouble in the future.