“Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” has been in the news because of the “n” word. One publisher has even substituted “slave.”
In east Texas, I was a pale version of Huck.
I swung from grapevines into murky ponds, rode broken mowers down their embankments, fished with cane poles and grasshoppers, rode cheap floats down flooding creeks, smoked grapevine twigs, used Chinaberries in sling-shot fights…
At novel’s end, Huck must obey the law and turn in the runaway slave Jim, or allow Jim — who has been good to him — to escape.
Although Huck believes that he will burn in hell for disobeying the law, he chooses the latter.
As Mark Twain says, “A sound heart is a surer guide than an ill-trained conscience.”
We face our own less-dramatic dilemmas: Acquiescing to society’s norms, or taking riskier positions that feel truer.
Are we brave enough to speak up against mainstream religious pressure, resist knee-jerk patriotism, refuse to denigrate non-citizens?
When a local citizen writes a letter-to-the-editor calling President Obama “nothing but a con artist,” are we willing to call him on being too simplistic?
Are we willing to disobey mob mentality to free others from being enslaved by today’s “n” word — “norms”?
Do we have Huck’s courage to burn in hell before sheepishly following today’s “n” word?