10-second review: Why the authors would never use Huck Finn as required reading in a majority white school with a small minority of African-American students.
Title: “Shoot the author, Not the Reader.” M Franek and
Summary: The authors begin with the following quote: “We think that Huck Finn is an important work of art that should be available in every library I the world, but we don’t think that it should be required reading in any predominantly white high school where African American students are in a small minority.”
The authors then show that Twain’s novel is historically inaccurate, that Jim is a stereotypically illiterate black man with the mind of a child, that Huck is a stereotypically superior white boy who plays jokes on Jim that are downright dangerous, given the times when runaway slaves were subject to violent capture. And then there’s the N-word, more than 200 times, and in the context of pure white hatred.
How would you feel as a minority black in a white school with whites all around your classroom, conscious that you are the only black person in the room? That’s not a rhetorical question. How would you feel?
Comment: I agree with the authors of this article. I would never make Huck Finn required reading in a majority white school with a small minority of black students.
I’m reminded of a biography of Robert Kennedy by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. Kennedy asked to meet in a hotel room with some of the most famous of black American citizens. Kennedy’s purpose was to discuss solutions to the problems of race in
Kennedy’s problem was failure to listen and failure to communicate.
Why should students read Huck Finn? A portrait of the times. The humor. The characters. As an example of a picaresque novel. But it should be balanced by such works as Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail and many another essay from The Best American Essays of the Century. A summary of King’s letter follows:
Martin Luther King, Jr.: "Letter from