NJ Looks to Ban Huck Finn

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NJ Looks to Ban Huck Finn

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In this past couple of months, a majority of the sophomore class read the American classic, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain. However, in upcoming years, this book may no longer be taught in New Jersey due to a non-binding resolution that was proposed by New Jersey Assembly Members Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, D-Mercer, and Jamel Holley, D-Union.  This resolution was most likely set in motion after a disturbing set of Snapchat posts about the book in schools.

The Mark Twain novel takes place during pre-Civil War times in the South and follows Huckleberry Finn, a teenager who is running away from home and his alcoholic father.  Along the way, he runs into Jim a slave who is running away from his owner.  The two work their way up the Mississippi River by raft with the goal of being free of their former lives. 

The reason why this book is in question is because of the outdated language in the novel. The resolution writes, “The novel’s use of a racial slur and its depictions of racist attitudes can cause students to feel upset, marginalized or humiliated and can create an uncomfortable atmosphere in the classroom.”  This makes sense when considering the fact that racial slurs are used over 200 times in the book. 

New Jersey isn’t the only state who has proposed, or decided, to remove the book as schools in Virginia, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota have banned the book from their curriculum. This ban is another part of the decades long debate over whether or not the book is acceptable to be taught in school. Some view this ban as unnecessary as they feel the language used in the novel matches that of the time period, making the book an appropriate way to teach students about pre-Civil War times. However, others argue that there are plenty of other books that can teach students the same lessons as Huckleberry Finn and portray the time period without the excessive use of racial slurs. While this topic is still under debate, no district has yet come out to say if they would go along with the ban.