Racial Epithets In Huck Finn

1300 Words 6 Pages
From its polarizing reviews to its crass humor, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has always been a figure of controversy. In recent years, the book’s attitude towards African Americans has come into scrutiny, and a new issue has arisen: does such a controversial novel belong in the classroom? Some believe the novel’s educational values outshines its insensitive racial attitudes, however, ts offensive contents may be too much to bear for students. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain should not be required reading in the 11th Grade American Literature class at Issaquah High School because the book alienates students due to its offensive content. Even though the book is considered a literary classic, its derogatory characterization …show more content…
Many believe “the impact on others far outweighs the communicative value of the [n-]word, especially to use it casually” (“Enough!”). While the n-word was considered a normal part of a person’s everyday vocabulary in the 19th century, the casual and frequent use of the word can shock and discomfort some students due to social norms being more sensitive in present day Issaquah. If a student is uncomfortable in class, he or she may distance themselves from others in class by not participating in class discussions. In fact, Allan B. Ballard, a black student who attended a primarily white school, stated: “I only recalled the sense of relief I felt when I would flip ahead a few pages and see that the word ‘nigger’ would not be read that hour” when sharing his reaction to Huck Finn being read out loud in class (qtd. in Henry 364). When a student is distracted by the use of racial epithets in a novel, he or she will pay less attention to the studies of the material itself. Such a concern may generate a gap in academic performance in the rigorous English courses at Issaquah High School. Mirroring Ballard’s statement, some believe that “[i]f the teacher permits [the n-word’s] use, the black child tends to reject the teacher because the student is confident that the teacher is prejudiced” (Wallace 18). If the book creates a rift between the student and the teacher, the student’s education will be hindered. Said student may also distance himself from other students who are not offended by the book because he or she will also think they’re prejudiced or insensitive to the book’s contents. The use of racial epithets in Huck Finn can create performance gaps in class and create conflicts among students and

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