Society's Reaction to Controversial Works of Literature

Many works of literary merit have been placed on a ban list and are forbidden to be taught in some schools. Chief among these books is "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" for it’s controversial topics concerning race and censorship. Although the book isn’t inherently racist, offense has been taken to it and its casual use of "the n-word." Despite the controversy surrounding it, though, it is still considered a great piece of American Literature. How does society react when it is presented with controversy (specifically in a school setting) such as this, and how do these reactions affect the value of the work as a whole? Would the meaning of the work be diminished if this conflict didn’t exist? Use the answers to analyze whether Huckleberry Finn should be taught in school or permanently banned from our education system.

  • Huckleberry Finn is an interesting choice because it is no longer controversial for the same reasons it was when it was published. It might also be interesting to briefly examine Twain's intentions for the story before delving into delving into the controversy and interpretations surrounding it. – MichelleAjodah 8 years ago
  • Many countries have banned book lists. Middle Eastern countries in particular have some really interesting ideas as to what constitutes controversy. Maybe do a comparison on what is controversial in the U.S. and Europe in comparison to other parts on the world? – jakedook 8 years ago
  • Just imagine the book's success had it not used the n-word. Just look at Agatha Christie's book "And Then There Were None." Before it's name was censored it was called "Ten Little N***ers," but most people don't know that and give the story acclaim anyways. It's not that the author's were inherently racist, it was just a term that was socially acceptable/used in their time, the problem lies in the sensitivities of people in our time and their inability to understand that. – Slaidey 8 years ago
  • It takes the first amendment away to say any book that has a controversial topic in it. Children shouldn't have to be placed in a situation were they have to think about controversial topics. But that is a perfect world.-camilliamaye – CamilliaMaye 8 years ago
  • Political correctness is a curse wearing the mask of a blessing. The rawness of Twain's novel discusses the inconvenient reality of society. This book was on the ban list when I was in school but our teacher placed it on the syllabus to be read regardless. Was she wrong? I don't think so. Aware? Definitely. – SuzetteA 8 years ago
  • @SuzetteA: Yes, oh, yes. To the original poster, it would definitely be worth exploring what constitutes controversy in different cultures, settings, or genres. For example, what we think is appropriate for children is vastly different from what we think is appropriate for adults. A lot of the time, I think a double standard exists. – Stephanie M. 7 years ago

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