The movie that the class watched dealt with the classic novel Huckleberry Finn written by Mark Twain. Huckleberry Finn was written in the late 19th century, but it takes place during slavery in the southern United States. The book revolves around the adventures of a white farm boy from Mississippi, Huckleberry, and a runaway slave Jim, as they try to reach the North and freedom. Written in the narrated view of the main character Huckleberry Finn, the grammar and language of the day are incorporated into the book, including the word nigger. Nigger is used in the book around 200 times and it is for this reason that some school boards have banned it and furious debates about allowing literature with hateful words in schools have erupted all over school boards in North America. The movie that we watched illustrates these debates and focuses on one high school in Arizona that’s in the midst of debating whether it should be banned or allowed. The arguments put forth by the people opposed to the book being taught in class are the following. Books can influence the behaviour of kids enough so that they begin to use the word Nigger in their vocabulary and towards other classmates.
Thus their main argument is that books will be used to incite hatred in the classroom. The second argument is that the word Nigger carries too much emotion for African American students. So when this word is either called out in class or read in the book it becomes too painful and remindful of a darker time and they should not have to be reminded about this painful past in such ways at school. Arguments made by supporters of the book are that the book should be allowed for the greater good despite the fact that it has hateful literature. Supporters argue at the center of the story is a powerful anti-slavery and racism novel that teaches students harmony between races can exist. A second argument is that kids would not be as influenced by the word Nigger if taught properly by teachers. They propose that teachers receive special teaching to teach this book and properly deal with the word Nigger when used in class. Finally, they believe that is a classic American novel that teaches kids of a time when America was morally bankrupt that kids should never forget or not learn about.
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My personal belief is that the book should be allowed to be taught at schools at teacher’s discretions. I agree with the argument of the greater good that although the word Nigger does appear in the novel the moral message out ways its usage. I think that students take away from the book not the word Nigger but the idea of the stupidity of racism and how horrible it can become when manifested. Also, those bonds between humans can exist in all people despite society pressure or perceptions that dictate otherwise. Another important argument is that the book does not use the word Nigger in a hateful manner as we perceive it to have today. Rather it’s a realistic manner because when Huck calls Jim a nigger he is his best friend its because it’s all he knows to call black people which is a very important distinction. Finally, I believe that if kids can be influenced by the word nigger then they can be influenced by the great moral message which in the end is more powerful and more present in the book than that word, so kids would be generally influenced positively from the book rather then negative.
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