The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is considered one of his and Americas finest novels. It follows a runaway boy and a slave making their way through the American South in the early 1800s, making it a realistic story of what life was like during that time. Twain goes where most Americans dont want to go, using racial slurs and discussing what really happened in the early days of the United States.
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The book brilliantly starts ethical and cultural conversations, but in order to understand the deep meaning of the book, one must have great literary skills. And the high school students around America who are required to read this complex novel dont have the ability or skill to understand what Twain wrote. When high school students read the novel, they cannot fully grasp the complexity of it, so much of Twains work goes to waste. Twains novel should not be a required text in American high schools due to the academic maturity needed to understand the text.
In his novel, Twain used many advanced literary techniques that were seen as absurd, compared to other texts from the time, to nineteenth-century critics. In a criticism of the novel, author T.S. Elliot discussed the advanced language from the book. She described it as, an innovation, a new discovery in the English language that no other authors were able to accomplish. One of the techniques Twain used on each and every page of the book was the change in dialect between characters. To a highly educated reader, this demonstrates the different personalities from character to character as well as Mark Twains racial stance. But to a normal reader, this complexity can be seen as inconsistent and childish. The less educated person would not have the skill to recognize the ingenuity of this writing style, while a more experienced reader has been trained to pick up on what Twain is communicating. Huckleberry Finn also includes what some think to be explicit and offensive language. Without advanced literary knowledge and careful observation, the term nigger is easily mistaken as racist. To a normal reader, this term can appear as offensive to the black race. In his criticism, Huck, Jim, and American, Racial Discourse, David Smith shows that nigger is neither to offend nor merely to provide linguistic authenticity. He explores the idea of Frontier humor which is another vessel for Twain to satirically convey his views of society. Only the most intelligent readers have the ability to recognize the satire behind his views. Most high school students do not possess the ability to dissect and to comprehend the complex literary content of Twains novel.
High school students dont have the ability to understand the content surrounding cultural interactions. Children in todays society have been sheltered their whole lives and dont have any experience with cultural concepts through Americas history. Mike Luckovich composed a comic to explain the lack of exposure in the youth of todays society. His comic shows a teacher saying Mark Twain used the n-word 219 times in Huck Finn he was one of the nineteenth century’s greatest and a student interrupts gangsta rappers? Luckovichs comic demonstrates that Americas students have barely if at all, experienced cultural diversity. Many are not in the correct location to learn hands-on what historical America looked like. Twains book takes place in the South where the ratio of African Americans is much greater than in other regions of the US, where the majority of the population is white. Author Jane Smiley explains that black Americans understand racism as a way of structuring American culture. Her statement explains that few students in todays society can fully grasp on to the concept of the development of American culture from racism. The racial and culture concepts presented in Huckleberry Finn cannot be understood by high school students and can easily confuse them due to inexperience.
Twains novel contains ethical controversy which gives it its relevance, but the concept of it can be challenging to understand. The biggest question surrounding this novel among critics, authors, and readers since the nineteenth century is whether Twains perspective is ethical or not. Toni Morrison wrote about this in his criticism, This Amazing Troubling Book. She wrote that the novel was complicated territory for sophisticated scholars let alone young students. Morrison discussed how complicated and difficult it was for her to read the novel at a young age and explored how even the most advanced readers struggle with Twains ethical stance. She expressed how even after her years of literary study and experience she still cannot grasp on to if Twain is ethical or not. The ethical conversations alone makes The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn a deeply complex novel. One of Mark Twains finest novels, Huckleberry Finn, contains important cultural and ethical conversations related to Americas troubled history. He goes in depth into the early days of the United States and goes where no other author during his time was brave enough to go. The deep complexity of the novel can only be understood by highly educated scholars and those with academic maturity. Yet, thousands of students in American high schools read Twains novel every year. These students dont have the experience or ability to understand the advanced literary techniques in the novel. Due to the academic maturity needed to understand the text, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn should not be a required text in American high schools.
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