At the same time, he steals, speaks badly, rebels against authority, and runs away from home.
Dec,pp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.
Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at http: Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission.
JSTOR is an independent not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating and preserving a digital archive of scholarly journals.
Race, Identity, and the Teaching of Huckleberry Finn John Alberti What Africanism became for, and how it functioned in, the literary imagination is of para- mount interest because it may be possible to discover through a close look at literary "black- ness, " the nature—even the cause—of literary "whiteness.
What parts do the invention and development of whiteness play in the construction of what is loosely de- scribed as "American v? Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination Well, if ever I struck anything like it, Fm a nigger It was enough to make a body ashamed of the human race.
In explaining her approach, she points out that until recently, "by limiting their field of inquiry to the periphery," white schol- ars "have missed the ways in which African-American voices shaped Twain's cre- ative imagination at its core" 4. She links her study of Twain to the more general "need to revise our understanding of the nature of the mainstream American liter- ary tradition" and credits Twain with helping to "open American literature to the multicultural polyphony that is its birthright and special strength" 4, 5.
This effort to overcome the cultural separation and segregation in the study of American literature has many of its roots, as Fishkin points out, in the work of African- American scholars and critics, and constitutes one of the central aims of multicul- turalism. Fishkin's work is testament to the freshness of insight such an approach brings to the study and teaching of even the most heavily interpreted of texts.
If, however, as Fishkin argues following Ralph Ellison and Toni MorrisonHuckleberry Finn can be used to demonstrate the interrelatedness of white and black American culture, the book is also profoundly about separation and the construc- John Alberti is an assistant professor of American literature at Northern Kentucky University.
He is the editor of The Canon in the Classroom: He is currently working on the application of rhetorical and cultural studies approaches to multicultural pedagogy. College English, Volume 57, Number 8, December College English tion of racial difference, issues evoked by the brutal epithet that haunts the pages of this supposedly All-American epic: Rather than try to explain the term away or simply condemn the book, I want to look at the use of "nigger" in Huckleberry Finn as central to the operation of this text in American cul- ture and the American classroom and to regard Huckleberry Finn as a kind of med- itation on the word "nigger," as an attempt by Twain to explore the construction and maintenance of racial identity.
My goal, however, is not to come to a determi- nation of some essential quality of the book or author was Twain or is Huckleberry Finn "racist"?
In asking, for example, why Huck is unable to re- linquish the word "nigger" in referring to Jim, in spite of the supposed growth of their friendship, I also want to ask how particular readers respond or have re- sponded to that word. Most specifically, what do the excuses and explanations of- fered in justification of Twain's use of the word "nigger," the attempts to control the discussion of how race operates in the novel and in the classroom, tell us about the investment Huck and his white critics, teachers, and readers have in the book and in the word, and what implications does such an analysis have for discussions of race in the classroom?
Although dismissed by some as an example of a newly faddish "political cor- rectness," the controversy over the use of "nigger" in Huckleberry Finn goes back almost forty years and is in many ways a product of the efforts at school desegre- gation brought about by the civil rights movement and the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v.
The changing demographic and political realities created by these historical developments brought a new group of readers and crit- ics into formerly all-white educational institutions. For many black schoolchildren, particularly in integrated or semi-integrated classrooms, the insistent repetition of the term "nigger" in Huckleberry Finn caused pain, anger, and humiliation, and led organizations like the NAACP and other sympathetic parties to question the pur- pose of requiring children to read the work.
Responses from the academic establishment to such challenges ranged from the puzzled to the dismissive. A classic move in defense of the book, then and now, has been to lump all nonacademic critics of the book together as extremists and "censors" Robert Sattelmeyer, for example, refers ominously to "organized groups"  who have attacked the novelthus equating the complaints about the book's "coarseness" from the genteel bourgeois trustees of the Concord Public Li- Race, Identity, and the Teaching of Huckleberry Finn brary in the s with more recent objections based on race and civil rights.
Clearly, though, such blanket dismissals obscure real and important differences in historical context and political reality. The book has been defended against charges of racism, for example, by the likes of George Will and Ronald Reagan, readers whose general advocacy of school texts that promote "patriotism" and "decency" might seem to have more in common with the moralistic concerns of the nine- teenth-century Concord library committee than with modern civil libertarians it is also hard to imagine any other situation in which conservative commentators would defend the inclusion in school curricula of a work that contained over two hundred instances of any other brutal obscenity, regardless of the overall artistic purpose of the work.
One result of the entrance of African-American voices into the critical discus- sion of the book has been to point out the arrogance, ignorance, and naivete of many otherwise subtle readers of Huckleberry Finn. Peaches Henry, for example, shows how the defenses of the book offered by Nat Hentoff, Justin Kaplan, and Leslie Fiedler in reaction to the controversy over the term "nigger" "illustrate the incapacity of non-blacks to comprehend the enormous emotional freight attached to the hate word 'nigger' for each black person" The larger implication of Nadeau's remarks, that slav- ery itself was "not necessarily abusive," raises new questions instead of defusing the controversy.
It is also a pedagogical comment that seems strangely distant from the demographic realities of the contemporary American classroom. Many other recent critics, both white and black, have also pointed to the level of white fantasy involved in discussions of the character of Jim and more specifi- cally the relationship between Huck and Jim.
Harold Beaver and Forrest Robinson, in particular, each point to the sentimental naivete of white readers who simply take Jim's declaration of affection for Huck at face value, thus ignoring the fact that throughout the book Jim is involved in his own plans for escape and that Huck al- ways remains a threat to those plans.
Beaver's and Robinson's more skeptical per- spectives, for example, make us regard Jim's statement in chapter 16 that he was secretly "a-listenin' to all de talk" while Huck lied their way out of the unwanted attentions of two men in a skiff as a sign of Jim's caution and suspicion as much as his attentiveness and gratitude toward Huck Mark Twain’s novel condemning the institutionalized racism of the pre-Civil War South is among the most celebrated works of American fiction.
Read a character analysis of Huck, plot summary, and important quotes.
Buy a copy now on rutadeltambor.com Get ready to write your paper on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with our suggested essay. The Father-Son Relationship of Jim and Huck in Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Huck Finn contains a timeless portrait of two individuals overcoming the obstacles of two markedly different backgrounds, personalities, and values and finding in each other a true, meaningful relationship that brings them both the strength and Author: Heather M Shrum.
Home — Essay Samples — Literature — The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn — The Portrayal of America Before the Civil War This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by professional essay writers. She reminds us that this is the world where Huck Finn spent his time before his own book, and concludes that by better understanding this world we can better understand Huck.
Tom Quirk's "The Realism of Huck Finn" begins by tracing the separate narrative perspectives of Mark Twain and Huck Finn, explicating the story as it passes from one. The frontispiece to Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, drawn by E.W. Kemble, Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature, Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library INTRODUCTION TO ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN The character of Huckleberry Finn is one of the three key images associated with Mark Twain.
In Mark Twain’s novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the lead character, grows up under the guidance of three different adult views on how a boy should behave.
Huck, the lead character, learns helpful and damaging life lessons from the Widow Douglas, Miss Watson, Jim, and pap.