AP English Literature
April 11, 2013
Mark Twain and the N-Word You wouldn’t think that the “N-word” would be the ultimate bad word. People get offended by “N-word” and think that Mark Twain shouldn’t use it in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” The way the term “nigger” was used in the book was in no means to offend anyone. The “N-word” should not be replaced by the word “slave” in future publications of Twain’s novel, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Why change a classic because of what others say about it? Many people get offended when they see that Twain used the word “nigger” in the book more than 200 times to describe a black slave. Sometimes people use a word to describe something or someone without trying to offend them, but because they are referring to them, they take it to be offensive. Many words back then had a different meaning than they do now. For example, take the word gay. Gay meant happy and now people go around using it to describe someone who is attracted to his own sex. Same goes for the “N-word,” it neutrally referred to black people. And now it’s used offensively to describe a black person. Spokeswoman Suzanne De La Rosa says, “the censorship allows the book to be read in schools, where it was becoming shunned”(Source F). Schools were starting to reject “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” because it was uncomfortable to teach it for the reasons of racial slurs. The “N-word” has controversy with it because now it’s usually used to offend a black person. It describes a racial group that had been mistreated back when “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” was written and people don’t seem to like it because it can remind someone of how things used to be. Even though, the “N-word” can be offensive to some people, the word shouldn’t be replaced with “slave” because first of all, the book is a classic and second, because Twain didn’t write that word to offend anybody. Many teachers say that they don’t want to teach their students that book because it’s uncomfortable for them. The use of the word “nigger” is uncomfortable because the connotation it has behind it. It’s like when parents always try to not argue in front of their kids because of the words that can slip out of their mouths. The kids will think its okay to say those words and most likely repeat them. Its bad for a kid to be saying bad words, but for parents or adults it doesn’t sound as bad. Twain didn’t write “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” for kids to read because he knew that most wouldn’t understand the story behind it. Twain said, “I wrote ‘Tom Sawyer’ & ‘Huck Finn’ for adults exclusively, & it always distressed me when I find that boys and girls have been allowed access to them”(Source H). Twain knew that this book would cause trouble for kids. People would start judging his book and complain about how the book is not kid friendly because of the “N-word.” But face it, the book is not meant for kids to be reading, maybe not even for most adults because they wont understand the book.
If only everyone can agree on everything, we wouldn’t have so many problems in the world we live in. One example can be war. War begins when at least two opposing sides disagree, so they fight because they want to be right or because they want to take over. What if there wasn’t any war? We wouldn’t know…