Monday, January 10, 2011

Messin' with a classic!

Soooo, we're really going there? We're gonna change that ever-awful, offensive N- word to "slave?" "N-" (I can never ever bring myself to write that word, even in a blog for academic support of a classic): (from
1. Slang: Extremely Disparaging and Offensive.

a. a black person.
b. a member of any dark-skinned people.
2. Slang: Extremely Disparaging and Offensive. a person of any race or origin regarded as contemptible, inferior, ignorant, etc.
When Mark Twain wrote The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, published in 1884, he used the first sense of the word: "a black person," the "acceptable" term of the time, although Twain probably used the word sardonically. After all, the most contemptible people in the Midwest and South are treated in his novel with only the slightest humor and more with Juvenalian satire, contemptuously, revealing their callous and inhumane selves.

As long as Huck and Jim, the "N" of the narrative, are on their raft, in the arms of the mighty Mississippi, they are safe. Touch land, touch evil. Meet it in the flesh. When Huck decides to go to Hell by freeing Jim, he shows his true color (pardon the pun). One of the kindest, most compassionate characters in literature is Jim.

"Slave": (from
1. a person who is the property of and wholly subject to another; a bond servant. 
Technically, within context of the novel set during the time of slavery, Jim could be referred to as a slave, but that changes Twain's intent: satire. Satire is a hard master and only readers with the strongest stomachs can take this tonic/toxin. The way of life of the South with people as slaves--as property, as subjects to others--was certainly offensive, abusive, murderous. How else to lull the sensibilities of ignorant, racist readers if not with the practice of the "n-" word. Did Twain know he would one day  offend? That's not the question: Did he care? The novel and Twain's use of the "n" word are part of American history as reflected in its literature.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Original Unabridged VersionHuckleberry Finn stands as it is. Leave it alone. If not, what's next? The Bible?

 For further discussion of using the "n" word in a class setting:

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A favorite souvenir

A favorite souvenir
These are my two girls from Ireland!

Judy's shared items

Books on my very ambitious TBR list (*denotes read)

  • *Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox
  • The Odd Women by George Gissing
  • The Zen of Fish by Trevor Corson
  • How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell
  • The Cod Tale by Mark Kurlansky
  • In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden
  • *Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
  • Dag Hammarskjold by Elizabeth Rider Montgomery
  • The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet by Rabbi Michael L. Munk
  • Children of Strangers by Lyle Saxon
  • Spiritual Writings by Flannery O'Connor
  • Nightmares and Visions: Flannery O'Connor and the Catholic Grotesque by Gilbert H. Muller
  • The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O'Connor
  • Flannery O'Connor's South by Robert Coles
  • Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
  • Sylvanus Now by Donna Morrissey
  • *Vincent de Paul by Margaret Ann Hubbard
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
  • A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  • The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel
  • Readicide by Kelly Gallagher
  • *Ruined by Paula Morris
  • Say You're Not One of Them by Uwem Akpan
  • Wandering Star by J.M.G. Le Clezio
  • Silence by Shusaku Endo
  • *The Assault by Harry Mulisch
  • Kari's Saga by Robert Jansson
  • *The German Mujahid by Boualem Sansal
  • Western Skies by Joseph Conrad
  • *The Giver by Lois Lowery
  • *Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski

School Library Journal - NeverEndingSearch


A semester course in one book about the Soviet Union. Click on image for my review.