Tag: TheAdventures of Huckleberry Finn

books

5 Books I Read in College That I Absolutely Loathed

I didn’t major in English to get paid the big bucks, I majored in it because of how much I love to read. I was already a voracious reader before this point, but while I was in college I was introduced to a new world of literature that I hadn’t known about prior. Some of those books remain some of my favorites to this day, but there are quite a few of them that I didn’t particularly like—ones that I found to be a chore to tread through. 

 

1. The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith 

 

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The Price of Salt (adapted to film as Carol) was probably my least favorite book to read out of all my years of college. It tells the story of a girl named Therese who is living an unfulfilling life with an unfulfilling boyfriend. She acquires a job at Macy’s as she struggles to work her way up in the theatre world. While at Macy’s, she meets an older woman named Carol, who she falls deeply in love with. The story never fully goes into detail about whether or not the two women develop a physical relationship, but it is clear that the two care very much for one another.

 

Personally, I wasn’t a fan of the pacing. I found the relationship to escalate far too fast. It ended up feeling unrealistic and I never really bought the romance as a result. Therese also becomes so deeply obsessed with Carol that it made me cringe at every page-turn. 

 

2. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

 

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Okay, I take it back…I think this was my least favorite book I ever had to read in college, and I had to read it three separate times. Once was apparently not enough. I guess I’m just not a huge fan of imperialist/colonialist texts, and that’s exactly what Heart of Darkness is. This 1899 novel tells the story of a man named Charles Marlowe who travels deep into the African wilderness, and loses sight of himself amidst the backdrop of the African jungles. While I see the merit in a novel such as this one, I personally found it utterly boring and all I can say is that it filled me with “…horror! The horror!”

 

3. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

 

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This might be an unpopular opinion, but Romeo and Juliet is probably my least favorite Shakespeare play. We had read this one my sophomore year of high school, but it returned to me in college when I took a class on Shakespeare’s plays. I find the plot to be vaguely boring, and the plight of the two lovers is not one that particularly interests me. Theirs is puppy love, and they essentially die after knowing each other for a very short period of time. In my opinion, there are many other plays Shakespeare wrote that are far more fascinating and worth the time and effort.

 

4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

 

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I wish I could earnestly say that I enjoyed reading Little Women, but the truth of the matter is that I did not. Maybe it was a bad semester to have been assigned this reading because I know that when I was asked to read this text it was in the midst of a particularly work-intensive time period. The story of Marmee and her four daughters struggling to survive while Mr. March (husband and father) is off in the Civil War simply did not cut it for me. And as with all college classes, we were required to speed through the novel, so perhaps I simply wasn’t able to fully appreciate the story for that reason. 

 

5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

 

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In my defense, reading Huckleberry Finn when your professor is a Twain scholar is truly a daunting task to undertake. We spent an abnormally long amount of time dissecting this novel, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at the cover of one of Twain’s novels without recounting some random detail about the man’s life and works. Huckleberry Finn tells the story of young Huck Finn who is a wild and adventurous child. He does not appreciate society or the conformities that it requires of him, so he escapes with a runaway slave on a raft down the Mississippi River. One of the things I did fully appreciate regarding this 1884 novel was how magnificent Twain paints the famous river, because it truly is a sight to behold. But aside from that? I found Huck Finn to be a rather annoying and troublesome child. 

 

So there you have it, five novels I was forced to read that just did not do it for me. Maybe I’ll give them another try now that I can flip through them at my own pace. Except for Heart of Darkness. Three times was enough for three lifetimes!

 

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Feature Image Via WFL Children’s Room Blog

To Kill a Mockingbird

Duluth School District Removes Books Including Racial Slurs From Required Curriculum

The Duluth school district has removed To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from their required reading. This is due to the books’ usage of a racial slur, and the curriculum change has been supported by the local NAACP chapter.

 

The books have not been banned from the schools’ campuses, will remain in the libraries, and can be used as optional reading for students, but they will be replaced by other literature that addresses similar topics in ninth and eleventh grade English classes at the beginning of the next school year. 

 

“The school district intends to be considerate of all its students,” said Michael Cary, the district’s director of curriculum and instruction. “The district owes it to its students to not subject them to a racial slur that marginalizes them in their required learning,” adding that district leaders felt that there are many other options in literature that can teach the same lessons as the two novels without containing a racial slur.

 

“We felt that we could still teach the same standards and expectations through other novels that didn’t require students to feel humiliated or marginalized by the use of racial slurs,” Cary said.

 

The removal of the books from required reading is a result of a variety of complaints over a number of years. Superintendant Bill Gronseth said the Duluth school district heard from a number of students that the book’s use of the slur created an uncomfortable atmosphere for them.

 

Stephan Witherspoon, president of the local chapter of the NAAP, applauded the school district’s decision, saying the use of “hurtful language that has oppressed the people for over 200 years” reduces the educational value of the literature. Gronseth said the district’s focus is to teach the lessons contained in the books and is transitioning to other literary sources that are “more universally appropriate.”

 

“It fits really well into the equity work that we’re doing, making sure that what we’re using as core curriculum is a good experience for all of our students. When curriculum materials are making some students feel uncomfortable, then we need to make a better choice.”

 

Honestly, I’m ecstatic about this decision. When I was in high school reading these books, the racial slurs made me uncomfortable, made friends uncomfortable. Reading out loud in class became stressful. Will my passage include a word I don’t want to say?

 

The decision to remove the books from the curriculum without banning them from libraries is a fantastic one. The books are a part of American literature, yes, but that doesn’t mean we should parade them through the streets on a pedestal. They’re a reflection of the times they were written in, but American society has progressed and many find such language hurtful, so why are we still requiring our children to see it?

 

The decision is one towards a better future, and I’m hoping other school districts follow suit.

 

Featured Image Via Duluth News Tribune.