It has come to my attention that the book Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is being challenged at our school. I can think of many reasons why this book should not be removed from our reading list here at Catholic High, and I ask that you take this letter and my opinion in it seriously before you take any action.
I understand that the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been controversial ever since it was published in the late 19th century, but I believe that some of the reasons why the book banned are not an issue in today’s society. For example, many libraries banned the book from the 1890’s through the early 1900’s because it included sentences including, “Huck not only itched, he scratched” and he used the word “sweat” instead of “perspiration”. Most people today would not hesitate or think twice about it when they came across either of the above statements, in fact it is almost laughable. In addition to the harmless language above, there are more serious, understandable arguments. What most critics today have an issue with is the infamous “N-word”, which at the time was commonplace language for white people in speaking to their black slaves. Some critics in the south were greatly upset by the way that Mark Twain portrayed them, and they thought he made them look bad.
I’d like to remind them that the book is meant to be fiction, although it may attempt to portray American life realistically. I think that people everywhere already know and should accept the fact that the word was used, and just be thankful at how our civilization has progressed over the years. We can’t ignore that the language exists and was used the way it was. The last point I will talk about concerns Huck Finn himself, and his actions throughout the book. It’s said that Huck is a bad role model to kids because of his poor grammar and questionable actions throughout the book. First, Huck’s bad grammar is meant to reflect the culture in the south at that time, and just because he has poor grammar and may have a poor education, that doesn’t at all reflect his personality, morality or character in any way. Huck shows throughout the novel that he has high morals, even if he does not have a great education. What I hope that the reader gets out of this letter is that most of the issues concerning the banning of this book are not as bad as critics can make them out to be. Overall I believe that The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain contains many examples of racial equality, strong values and good morals.
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