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Politically Correcting an American Classic Essay

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In 1884, a book by the name of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published and released into the public spectacle. Mark Twain's novel of childhood misadventures takes place in the American deep south, and unlike other writers of the time, Twain had an unorthodox approach to the story's narrative style; that is, he wrote the tale in the vernacular of the book's setting (Shmoop.com). That same vernacular is being censored some one hundred and twenty seven years later, by a publishing company named NewSouth Books, who has released a version of the novel that replaces the amply used word, 'nigger', with what they believe to be less offensive in the word, 'slave'. Adam Kirsch and Lorrie Moore, both opinion editorial contributors to the New York Times, both give their opinions on the censorship of the American classic, and some side-thoughts on the usage of the the 'N-word' in contemporary society.
Kirsch's article, entitled, “The First Drafts of American History”, briefly remarks on a recent decision of the House of Representatives to omit the portion of the Constitution found in Article I, section 2, which mentions “three-fifths of all other persons” in terms of state representation (the 14th Amendment made this passage completely irrelevant), and uses this as a segue into his discussion of Huckleberry Finn's newly utilized euphemistic censorship. Kirsch states his side of the dispute, stating that, “[if you] start eliminating everything offensive in literary history, you'll have nothing left” (NYT), but also empathizes with those who would wish to replace the derogatory word, giving the example of a black thirteen year old high school freshman, having to read the novel and seeing 'nigger' 219 times, all in pejorative connot...


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... these lessons to be taught may not be the best answer. There are the exceptions, of course, to those willing to adhere to the curriculum of high school. Some families may disagree with how the book is taught, or even that the book is being taught at all, but the point still stands: at 18 years old, high school seniors are about to leave the bubble that is home, stepping foot into the first steps of what is known as “real life”. If they take that first step with a distorted sense of principles and integrity, then it will be harder for them to become resilient towards living life without a shoulder over their backs. This clearly is not entirely based upon the question of whether or not Huckleberry Finn should be taught in class, but it assists. As Kirsch mentioned, the books of classical praise obviously have something to them if they are being taught in modern day.


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