What are your thoughts on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn? This is a troublesome book. It is a monument, an impediment, a boulder, an obstruction, a conundrum: I cannot come to terms with it. According to Hemingway (and others) the novel is the American novel. And there are passages of great beauty, there is humor, satire, poetry. But there is also that very troublesome word, a word that is like a knife in my heart. And that word appears not once but over two hundred times.
I've tried teaching it and not teaching it and almost teaching it and none of it feels right. One year instead of reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn my students did a unit on censorship (which they loved). One of their activities was to interview folks in our school about censorship in general, and about book banning, and about their thoughts on that specific book. Still it was a way around and not through the book.
So here I am again, feeling deep discomfort on account of the students who love the book, the students who hate the book, and those who won't say, but whose eyes I think I can read.
Any thoughts? Is Huck Finn a lesson in morality, and if so, what's the lesson? Is it an unavoidable American classic, avoided at our own peril? Or is it in the end a racist novel?