The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

A Reasonable Basis for the Institution of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as Required Reading in High School

Mark Twain's masterwork, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, has over time, created controversy proportionate to its tremendous literary worth. The story of an "uncivilized" Southern boy and a runaway slave traveling up the Mississippi River towards freedom, Huckleberry Finn has been called offensive and ignoble since its first publication. At the same time, supporters such as Ernest Hemingway have hailed it as the book that "all modern American literature comes from" (quoted in Strauss). Objectors have historically protested the novel for its racist content and have successfully banned it in many instances. Others feel that the book is an essential part of the American literary canon and should be taught to all students. The controversy presented in this essay will not be resolved in the foreseeable future - both sides have legitimate, defensible cases. For this reason alone, I believe The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn should be required reading in an 11th grade American literature class.

At first glance, objectors of Samuel Clemens' novel appear to engage in a simplistic level of discourse. Parents, teachers, and likeminded individuals have historically protested the novel over the racism inherent...

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