Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Fear of Loss of Important Literature

After reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain for a second time, I had the same kind of feeling which Morrison had: the feeling of overwhelming fear. Fear not only for the characters in the novel and the society which Twain presents to us, but the fear that children will not ever experience the story. It is such a classic novel filled with universal themes and important ideals that are absolutely still relevant today. Interestingly, after I finished the novel I resorted to old essays I wrote in 10th grade about Huck. I focused a lot on how he was abused and how it affected his behavior and relationships with other characters. I did not soley focus on just the racist elements of the novel (although still important) I instead chose to touch upon another issue which was just as equally important.

The reasons a novel like this one is banned makes me worried for society. As King addressed in his letter from Birmingham jail, in order to truly dive into the problems or ills of society we must first expose the wound. It’s easy to dismiss things and choose to be ignorant. It’s harder to face the ugly truths and deal with issues such as racism. Choosing to ban this book because of its racist phrases and characters is choosing to be ignorant. Jane Smiley discussed how Huck Finn does not even address the issue of the racism in America at the time of slavery at a whole and she felt that other literature like Uncle Tom’s Cabin truly tackles the issue full on. This being said, Huck Finn and Uncle Tom’s Cabin relays information about how society was in the days of slavery. By denying these novels and not teaching them in school, we are not exposing the wound, and therefore we are never going to fully treat the wound, as King would say. “ The cyclical attempts to remove the novel from classrooms extend Jim’s captivity on into each generation of readers, (Morrison, 389.)” Not only are we depriving children from understanding how a racisit society works, but also of other universal themes presented in the novel. After all Huck Finn is classic literature and those themes remain and last. 

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