Sunday, January 31, 2016

Controversy According to Kolvenbach, King, Morrison, and Smiley

In the four readings assigned for this week, we see two articles critiquing Mark Twain's controversial novel, Huckleberry Finn, and two describing injustice as it pertains to Jesuit education and the fight for justice. The first reading by Morrison begins with the author's description of her abject horror while reading the novel. However, upon further reflection and a second reading, Morrison came to appreciate the complexity and message that Twain was attempting to convey. Yes, the book is certainly offensive in multiple respects, but Morrison understood that Twain's troubling novel carried with it a deeper meaning: "The withholdings at critical moments, which I once took to be deliberate evasions, stumbles even, or a writer's impatience with his or her material, I began to see as otherwise: as entrances, crevices, gaps, seductive invitations flashing the possibility of meaning. Unarticulated eddies that encourage diving into the novel's undertow-the real place where writer captures reader" (388). Morrison understands that the true meaning of the novel lies in what Twain does not say. The shocking language and confusing dialect all lend to a deeper message.

Conversely, author Jane Smiley criticizes the novel, not for its content, but rather for its lack of plot. Smiley dedicates her article to critiquing Twain's inability to formulate a credible story for the hapless Huck. Twain took quite a bit of time to publish Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Smiley argues that this time lapse contributes to the novel's lack of consistency: "The villain here is Mark Twain, who knew how to give Huck a voice but didn't know how to give him a novel...He was facing a problem every novelist is familiar with: his original concept was beginning to conflict with the implications of the actual story"(356). Smiley is not concerned with the offensive nature of the novel. Rather, her main concern is the deviation that the story takes. It begins one way and takes a completely different turn.

On a completely separate note, the articles by King and Kolvenbach deal with the theme of injustice and education. Kolvenbach's article can readily be applied to the Loyola community as it deals with the issue of how to promote Jesuit ideals in students. Kolvenbach makes the claim that Jesuit ideals must include the promotion of justice: "So central to the mission of the entire Society was this union of faith and justice that it was to become the 'integrating factor' of all the Society's works..."(3). Kolvenbach believes that faith and justice must work in tandem in order to promote a better community. Similarly, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. writes in his Letter from Birmingham Jail that justice must be enforced and spread. As a controversial figure himself, King recognized the importance of promoting the ideals of love and acceptance. He understood that the world is connected, and every state must work in tandem: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly"(1). Like Kolvenbach, King understands that everyone is interrelated, and he has to leave his comfort zone in order to spread justice and unity. This is true in today's world; we cannot sit idly by and watch injustice occurring and refuse to take action. Everyone is connected, and until we all realize this, the world can never function peacefully.

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