The Themes Of Mark Twain's The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn

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Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is certainly among the most controversial texts of all time, being the subject of incessant attack from critics who feel that the text is unsuitable and should be banned from school curriculums. According to the American Literature Association, Twain’s most famous novel was the fifth most controversial book from 1990 to 2000, and while The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been extensively condemned as “highly overrated,” an “unorganized mess,” and the "most grotesque piece of racist trash ever written,” it has concurrently been acclaimed as one of the “most important and beloved American novels.” In fact, Ernest Hemingway himself praised Twain’s novel greatly, claiming that “all modern American …show more content…
Although Huck is never quite able to get past the label ‘nigger,’ he more significantly abandons the stereotypes that society has taught him to attach to slaves, such as that they are unintelligent and emotionless pieces of property (Barlow). The messages Twain conveys in his novel challenge students to consider the concept of race itself as well as what it means to identify as a certain race. Critically, though the dialogue and characters may seem to simply be a stereotypical and racist portrayal of African-Americans at first glance, Twain is asking students to “question his or her own investment in the construction of racial identity—and thus racial privilege” (Alberti). Twain dares to tell the unfiltered and harsh truth of life in the South and the social issues he highlights invoke feelings of anger, rage and shame, and consequently cause students to question why slavery and horrid mistreatment of African-Americans was ever tolerated in America. For instance, when Mrs. Phelps asks Huck if anyone was injured in a boat accident, he replies, “‘No’m. Killed a nigger,’” to which she replies, “‘Well, it’s lucky; because sometimes people do get hurt’” (Twain 258). This dialogue between two white characters serves not to victimize the black race, …show more content…
Instead, Twain wrote The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to be historically veracious of the time and place in which it is set and reveal. Though it contains harsh language, controversial racial messages and a seemingly disrespectful portrayal of a slave, it is for these principal reasons that Twain’s novel is such an invaluable text for schools to preserve as a part of their curriculum even over a century after its publication. Though Twain’s methods of exposing social issues has been perceived as unsophisticated and even racist, he regardless creates a valuable contribution to the history of American literature. Banning the text from schools only succeeds in teaching students that it is acceptable to cover up the disgraceful parts of America’s history. Ultimately, the authenticity of Huck and Jim’s tale as well as its place in history needs to be deservedly acknowledged in order for a better future to be

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