To Censor or Not to Censor: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

If you have been keeping up with American Literature this year, specifically Mark Twain, you know that there is a lot of buzz going around. Not only did Twain’s autobiography come out this year, but also, a new edition of his famous novel “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” was released. What makes this new edition of the famous American novel different, is the censorship of the highly racist term used to refer to African-American characters in the book (which occurs 219 times throughout the novel). That word is replaced with the word “slave” throughout the entire piece. Dimond High School’s librarian, Suzanne A. Metcalfe, grew up in the South where it was still very common to hear African-Americans being called a highly discriminatory word. However, her immediate family thought it was unacceptable and would not tolerate that “heavily charged” word as Metcalfe called it. Metcalfe said, “Cleaning that book takes away from the author’s intent. It’s not Hucklberry Finn by Mark Twain anymore. What they read won’t have the same feel or tone [as it used to].” Metcalfe believes that if “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is presented in the right way, Twain gets his message across: how whites treated blacks “horribly”. Tenth grade Honors English teacher and head of Dimond High School’s English Department Marcus Reese said that “Maybe more people will read it because it’s this way,” and that “[The controversy] keeps Huck Finn relevant.” However, Reese also said, “Part of the genius of Twain was his ability to capture the way people spoke. And when you go back and change what people said, then you’re changing the meaning of the words. “I’d rather want to see a conversation about why that word was used, not whether or not we should use it today,” he said. “It was an important book. It brought to life some pretty horrific realities.” Dimond Junior and African-American Brea Walker said she believed “that they should have left it in because of the first amendment.” Walker also said, “It’s a part of history. We shouldn’t censor history because if we don’t know the mistakes we’ve made in the past, then we can’t know how to act in the future.”