The Truth of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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The Truth of Huck Finn

Throughout the classic novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain continuously and loosely uses the word “nigger.” In the society of the year 2002 that word has become one of the most evil and hated in the English language. It is thought of as so bad that it is rarely even spoken, as people prefer to be politically correct and say “n-word” in it’s place. The use of this word has caused the book to be banned and censored by many schools across the country, as people want to shield children from the supposed racism of the novel. It was found to be the fifth most challenged book of the 1990’s. This word is definitely terrible and has no place in the current society, but it is important to examine Twain’s motive behind the inclusion of this word in the story. The book should not be dismissed as cruel and racist before all of the facts are examined. Before forming a wrong opinion, the evolution of the word and the reasons behind it’s use in the novel should be examined. After learning all of the facts, the use of the word in the book shouldn’t be looked as evil, but as a reminder of how far society has come.

This novel was written in a time very different from today. It was first published in 1884 and is set some years before in the early 1800’s. At this time slavery was common practice in the southern part of the United States. People grew up believing there was nothing wrong with it. People in this time spoke almost identically to the language presented in the book, including referring to African-Americans as “niggers.” Twain explains the dialects he was trying to present before the story even begins. In an explanatory he says he was using “the extremist form of the backwoods Southwestern dialect” and “the ordinary Pike County dialect.” Both of these types of speech would have included this word. Twain did not use this word to be derogatory toward black people but for the story to remain authentic. The appearance of the word in this book should be looked at as a reminder of a bad time in history.

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