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Huckleberry Finnn N-word Project

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Briana Kirton

on 8 April 2013

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Transcript of Huckleberry Finnn N-word Project

Should the original Huck Finn be taught? By Briana Kirton Perspective #1: Pro Nigger- Jill Nelson Huck Finn should not be taught with the N-word Huck Finn should be taught with the N-word Perspective #2: Pro Nigger- Jane Smiley Perspective #3: Con Nigger- Alan Gribben My opinion :/ Perspective #4: Con Nigger- Paul Butler Jill Nelson starts off her argument for teaching the original works of Huck Finn by saying: "There are vast differences between calling a character “nigger” and calling them “slave”. They are not interchangeable.” Nelson then elaborates on the fact that authors of all times choose what words to include in their books very carefully because each word is there for a reason. Certain words, or the N word to be specific, will help readers understand what the context actually is about. Jill concludes the article when she says: “What’s next? Substituting orange for red in a painter’s work because some observers find red too aggressive?” My opinion :) I am Pro- Nigger, so I agree with teaching the original texts of Huck Finn. Many say, one can not re-write history (which they are right), so why are people trying to re- write Huck Finn? By replacing Nigger with the word slave, not only are you down-playing history of Huck Finn, but, Huck would then refer to his friend Jim as a person of property (Slave) rather than a colored man (Nigger). As Jill Nelson said, authors won't put words into their stories if they do not contain any significance whatsoever. Mark Twain put the N-word into the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn because he wanted people to be appalled by the usage of Nigger, it was meant to make people uncomfortable. Without the word Nigger, it changes the whole outlook and context of Huck Finn. Alan Gribben was the man who proposed the idea of the creation of the sanitized version of Huck Finn to NewSouth Books Publishing company. Alan believes that Huck Finn with the word Nigger instead of slave, makes it harder for the students to absorb and comprehend the book because they spend too much of their time focusing on the word Nigger, a "minor" part of the book. Alan says that students can understand the whole plot of the book (including racial equalities) without the N- word. Nigger was supposed to be a degrading and belittling name for black people back in the 1800's, but unfortunately it is sometimes used today. I agree with the fact that High Schoolers should be exposed to the N-word in Huck Finn as part of their curriculum, but for minors who might read Huck Finn, they should read the sanitized version because they are not yet old enough to be introduced to racial equalities and the N- word. The N- word is an hurtful word, but depending on what context a person uses it in it can just merely stand for another name for a dark- skinned person. In the 1800's, Nigger was used to hurt colored folk, but today, it is mostly used in rap songs and sometimes it is used as a way of greeting other dark-skinned people. If people were more "open" to the use of the N- word in the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, I think the overall experience of reading the book would go over very well. Butler believes that Nigger should be replaced with slave because the N- word is offensive. Paul Butler, being African American, would rather have a sanitized version of Huck Finn read in high school classes because some of his white classmates made reading Huck Finn an uncomfortable experience for him when he was in High school. They went out of their way to say “Nigger Jim” because they knew it was a strong and meaningful word. Butler then finishes off with saying: “If other teachers think keeping those epithets in is worth the pain they will cause students of color, I understand that too” Sure, that happened during his high school years, but that doesn't mean reading the adventures of Huckleberry Finn in 2013, in Mrs. Schiefflin's first period class will be the same. The history of the N-word in 1885, St. Petersburg Missouri, Nigger was a word that was commonly used for blacks in the era. As many should know, times today are very different than times were in the 1800's. And as part of American History, people today should be able to respect the time differences and the ways of the people who lived in a colonial age. The N- word showed how white men referenced to blacks in the 1800's. Not only did it show how they were seen as, it showed what kind of world the blacks actually lived in during that time period. Mark Twain, growing up in Hannibal Missouri during the1840's, did not use the word slave to address a black man, he, along with many other children, used the N-word. Nigger was the only word Twain knew how to address a black man at the time, so that's what he used in the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The difference between the words Nigger and Slave The word slave is referring to property. According to Dictionary.com, it says: "a person who is the property of and wholly subject to another; a bond servant" (Dictionary.com). Basically the word slave entitles a person as a piece of their property and that they own them.

On the other hand, Nigger means: "a member of any dark-skinned people" (Dictionary.com).

The word Nigger by all means does NOT correspond with the word Slave. And most importantly, these two words are not synonyms to each other either. Citations: "Slave." Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2013. Kakutani, Michiko. "CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK; Light Out, Huck, They Still Want To Sivilize You." The New York Times. The New York Times, 07 Jan. 2011. Web. 07 Apr. 2013. Opening video on Mark Twain "Mini Bio: Mark Twain." YouTube. BiographyChannel, n.d. Web. 7 Apr. 2013. "Revised Huck Finn without 'n' Word Ruffles Feathers - YouTube." Revised Huck Finn without 'n' Word Ruffles Feathers - YouTube. Netzingenieur, n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2013. (Revised Huck Finn without 'n' Word Ruffles Feathers - YouTube.) (Mini Bio: Mark Twain. YouTube.) "Why are we reading a Shakespeare play or Huckleberry Finn? Well, because these works are great, but they also tell us something about the times in which they were created" (). Throughout this article, Smiley believes that if she were to teach Huckleberry Finn, she would want her students to be shocked by the use of Nigger in the story. Smiley points out that Huck Finn is a learning opportunity for students. It's an opportunity for students not only to see how life was lived in the late 1800's but also to consider how life was for colored people as well. Citations continued http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2011/01/05/does-one-word-change-huckleberry-finn/the-word-nigger-is-part-of-our-lexicon http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2011/01/05/does-one-word-change-huckleberry-finn/literatures-dual-life-in-the-case-of-huckleberry-finn
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