Why should we read Huckleberry Finn?
It's a question that is appropriate for this English teacher. After all, it's one of the most banned books in America. It's nearly 140 years old. What use could it be for a 21st-century 11th-grader?
The answer is "Everything."
Ernest Hemingway, a Nobel prize-winning 20th-century American author, wrote of Huckleberry Finn, "It's the best book we've had. All American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since."
This semester, we will be studying American literature. Huckleberry Finn is a key that unlocks all of the literature before it. For example:
- it features characters who are as hellfire and brimstone in their religious outlook as Jonathan Edwards
- there are witches and superstition enough to satisfy the imaginations of a whole passel of Salemites
- there are struggles for Independence from an oppressive, abusive father--and the equally oppressive, abusive institution of slavery
- there are Romantic characters, whose lives are shaped by their imaginations, and there are realists who are able to see things the way they really are
- characters pop up who mirror writers and personalities that lived in America before and during the Civil War
Why Huckleberry Finn? It's the best thing. It's the key to understanding American literature, both before and after Mark Twain. It's a fun read.
This blog will be used to keep up with what students have learned as they read. Your comments will be read carefully and used to grade your performance on this reading assignment. Hopefully, as we read Huckleberry Finn together, we can learn from each other, even as we learn from Mark Twain, and American master-storyteller.