Ugly as the N-word is, it forcibly reminds the reader that Jim is black and that slavery was imposed on blacks. Take it out of “Huck Finn” and you take away that power. Some people will convince themselves that Jim was white (I know that sounds insane. But I have run into people who believe that slavery included whites as slaves, which somehow means slavery wasn’t racist.)
”Well, I DID pay you back some of it wunst.”
”Yes, you did–‘bout six chaws. You borry’d store tobacker and paid back slave-head.”
Nope. It just doesn’t have the same feel to it… mostly because it’s not how people talked.
The emotional highpoint of the book occurs when Huck realizes that not only is “N—– Jim” a human being with actual feelings, but that Jim is also a friend that Huck is willing to break the law for, even if it means cheating that nice old lady who owns Jim and going to hell for it.
Of course the word was degrading, but showing how slaves were treated is necessary to establishing the drama of Huck’s decision and the power of the story.
I’m not going to wade in on the controversy. I never saw my first black person until I was ten. I only wondered what is his problem. The kid saved my hide one day, ‘nuff said!
Any “distinguished Twain scholar” who agrees to bowdlerize Twain for money should be tarred, feathered, and rode out of town on a rail, then thrown down Holliday’s Hill.
Exactly, Orgelspieler! And Pab is quite right. When one of our library books is challenged, 9 times out of ten, the person has not read the book.
To paraphrase my comment from yesterday, there are school systems where “Huckleberry Finn” is not taught or even available due to the close-mindedness of parents and school boards. This is an attempt to at least expose the kids to the literature that they would otherwise never see.
Looking through the bookstore for stories for my young nieces, I see any number of condensed/retold/aged-down books– Hans Brinker, Black Beauty, Little Women, and the like– the idea is to get the kids interested, and when they are old enough they can read the full version.
The thing that struck me the first time I read the book - I was about 10 - was when Huck discovered Jim had the same color of blood as Huck. Gave me a chill then and is still powerful today.
aircraft-engineer, I have just glanced at the two degrees in history hanging on my wall. I see no significant holes in my understanding of this part of American history.
Indentured slavery was not the same as the chattel slavery forced on Africans, even though chattel slavery had its roots in indentured servitude. Even those indentured servants who were forced into it through unjust legal procedures always had access to the courts to seek redress, and when their service ended they were free.
The first African arrivees in the English colonies were, as I recall, treated like indentured servants. That did not last long. They were unaware of English law and customs, and as quite a few people observed, when they ran away they were easy to identify. (This is echoed in Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution, which differentiates between “free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years” and excluding “three fifths of all other persons.”) It was easy for slave-owners to take advantage of their situation, and it is plain that racism was a factor in white acceptance of their enslavement.
Blacks also fought back, cf. maroons and assorted rebellions, bloodily suppressed, as well as the service of approximately 200,000 men of color in the Union forces.
You are also wrong about the draft, which was voluntarily if grudgingly accepted as a necessity in the Civil War, two World Wars and part of the Cold War. The matter of the swastika in post-War Germany is irrelevant.
Eldo Disc Golf, West Germany’s postwar ban on the swastika was not imposed as an effort to conceal the past. It was part of a ban on the Nazi party itself. Everyone feared a resurgence of the Nazi party. There was enough activity to bear out that fear, including a relatively small neo-Nazi party (can’t recall its name right now.) They were well-aware of the past.
If it seems insane that any Germans would want to restore the party that led them into disaster, stop and look at the results from our last election. (And to anyone who says that I just compared the Republican party to the Nazis: stuff it.)
If you think the Huck Finn idiocy is bad, a certain group (I won’t mention names) tried to have “The Little Rascals” comedies and Disney’s “Song of the South” banned because they didn’t show slavery as evil enough (in Disney’s case) and because they portrayed “Alfalfa” and “Buckwheat” as stereotypes.
Thankfully the Supreme Court ruled that the films were an innocent product of their times and contained no deliberate malicious content.
People are just not able to accept the past as the past and use it as a guidepost - not a hitching post…
I can’t attribute the quote, because I forget where I first read it but, “those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.”
Only took two years to forget for a lot of folks in this country, Saucy. Soon they’ll have hopped right back into the same sinking ship. but at least their captain will have a face that isn’ t that of a N_ Arab.
I was born in 37 and was an avid reader (also don’t think I met any black people until HS-where we had a large percentage in Chicago ‘burbs). I read H G Wells and many other authors as well as children’s stories (O’Henry, Poe and many others, loved Nancy Drew and slightly later got into Asimov and many other good Sci Fi authors). I never read Twain (was also never required to read other books that are on many lists). I only now have decided to read a complete collection of Chaucher this year. A teenage granddaughter called me for her report on black history month to get my remembrances.
Fact: Agatha Christie’s story “Ten Little Indians” was originally published as “Ten Little N—–s”. Times change.
@Radamanthus - But try to find a Disney-issued copy of “Song of the South” today.