Why Was Huckleberry Finn Ever Banned?

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For high-school-ers required to read “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” it’s hard to believe that there was a time when it was one of the most banned or challenged books in American schools. Just why was it so controversial for people in the early part of the 20th Century?

It has always centered around the language of the book, although the “offending” language has changed from time. Originally, some people objected such “crude” words as “sweat.” They claim that perspiration was much less offensive and should have been used instead. Also, in 1902, the Brooklyn Public Library found offense with the novel because of the statement that “Huck not only itched but he scratched.”

But the most notorious word that many found offensive–indeed, that many still find offensive–is the word “nigger.” The truth is, it was historically accurate to use the word for that time period. And in fact, in today’s hip-hop culture, where African-Americans use it frequently among themselves, it has lost some of its sting. Still, older blacks find it offensive, especially for whites to use it. However, in the 21st Century, thankfully, few people today doubt “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’s place among American classics.

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