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Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 1-6 
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 1-6
I found a rather exhaustive 'definition' here: http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Nigger_(word) Apparently the word 'nigger' is used currently among Afro-American youths in a familiar/friendly way, in some places anyway. Incidentally, 'Afro-American' has never seemed quite the right label to me either. What if you're black, but not from Africa at all? Excuse my ignorance if I'm mistaken, but not all dark-skinned people have their origins in Africa, correct? I think I'd resent the assumption that label makes.


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Sat Jan 08, 2011 7:20 pm
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 1-6
Around the mid-sixties white and black people started openly socializing. It was ok with me.

That's something I like about having been a young adult in the 60's . . . women were able to raise babies on their own; didn't 'have to' marry anybody. People didn't have to hide their sexual orientation anymore.

Well, the war in VN did a lot for that - everybody just threw up their arms and said 'the hell with it'.

I remember 1969 - Hair was here on the stage in Toronto. I went to see it and was thrilled to pieces with it. We had our first daughter in 1971 then moved off to a smaller town and opened a business. Right through the mid-seventies I saw changes taking place. When I went home to Toronto, the city was crammed full of different cultures. I like it and didn't like it all at the same time. But mostly, I was glad for it. It was like people had become people in their own right. Everybody stopped letting old codgers dictate how they were supposed to think.

I have an online friend from the south - she said something to me about 'niggers' once and I put her straight on that - told her 'we don't think that way here'. She never said anything like that to me again.

'Course, I realize - people can only be who they are - it depends on where and how you're raised, I guess.

My own parents were kinda' bigotted. When my mother was in the nursing home, I remember her talking about one of the volunteers. She said to me - that guy there - he's one of those 'queer' guys.

Now, Ma had the kind of whisper that was a shout, y'know . . . you could hear her right across the room. I was embarassed to sin.

My dad had the sense to keep it quiet. Or at least, he kept his comments private.

Some people are just so brazen.

When we started superintending in the building here, in 1994, one of the owners friends came down with one of their family to do some plastering. He walked in and made loud crass comments about some black people that had just gone out the door.

He said right out loud - I see they're letting the niggers in here now.

I was disgusted . . . I said to him - how do you feel about being called a wop? He was taken aback - I said 'see what I mean?'

3/4 of the population is non-white, fer gawd's sake - I don't quite see how some people expect to keep places segregated. It doesn't make sense.

Besides, I doubt there are very few people who are purely white anymore anyway. Fifty years from now we'll be thoroughly mixed, I'm sure.

But still - even among blacks, even among Indians - east Indians and natives, there are prejudices - Jamaicans and Trinnies talk about each other in negative ways. We have a lot of Polish people around our neighbourhood - they make rude comments about black people.

Hungarians make rude comments about Polish people.

Good grief - has it always been this way? I guess it has.

My mother's family were Welsh - some of the older ones talked about the Irish - they didn't like the Irish. Carried grudges from the old days when the Irish stole their jobs.

It's a wild, wild world. But what the hell, if we weren't meant to be all in it together, we wouldn't be.



Tue Jan 11, 2011 3:24 am
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 1-6
Dawn wrote:
I found a rather exhaustive 'definition' here: http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Nigger_(word) Apparently the word 'nigger' is used currently among Afro-American youths in a familiar/friendly way, in some places anyway. Incidentally, 'Afro-American' has never seemed quite the right label to me either. What if you're black, but not from Africa at all? Excuse my ignorance if I'm mistaken, but not all dark-skinned people have their origins in Africa, correct? I think I'd resent the assumption that label makes.


I think 'black' is actually a fairly new term - it's only been in use in the last 40 years or so.

And that's true - not all black/brown people come from Africa.

My mother's family was Welsh - I once looked up a history on the Welsh - they come down from some place in Asia . . . Mongolia, I think - I'd have to go back in and check it out.

So I myself am not purely white.

I do in fact get taken for a native Indian often. It doesn't bother me - I'd be proud to be a native.



Tue Jan 11, 2011 3:28 am
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 1-6
My main impression, after completing the first 6 chapters, is how good the story and writing is. That's not a profound observation, since it's widely considered to be one of the greatest novels in US literature. However, literary classics are often unappealing to me, and it's noticeable when one lives up to its reputation.

The book me pulled me into its world very quickly, in part because Huck is such a compelling character. It's a vivid depiction of an American] that's very different than the world I live in. For example, the presence of slaves and widespread belief in superstition are startling.

Huck's father is such a nasty guy. After reading about how he captured and tormented Huck, I'm wondering what will happen next. In school, I read Tom Sawyer but not Huckleberry Finn, and I have no idea where things are going. Since each chapter presents a distinct slice of Huck's world, there's no way to predict where things are headed.



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Thu Jan 13, 2011 9:12 am
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 1-6
DWill wrote:
I've read to Chapter 14, and what impresses me most this time around is how good the language is. That might seem strange to say, since English teachers over the years have disapproved of Huck's "grammar." But that's their hang-up; Huck's speech is colorful, metaphorical, rhythmical, economical, and poetic. He knows how to paint a scene and convey a sense of character as well as any other narrator I can think of. He's one of the unique voices in literature. He comes across as part savage, part sensitive soul; as half shrewd and half naive; as a boy who takes action yet remains passive to other circumstances.



I agree, the language is an essential part of conveying the sense of this story and creating an impact. In the first 6 chapters I found the violence and the ignorance of Huck's 'pap' to be overwhelming. Pap's attitude toward schooling and how he comes to the conclusion that Huck thinks he is better than his pap because he can read made me shake my head. But this is about fear, in this case, pap's fear of what he does not understand and his way of dealing with fear is with big talk and drink and violence. I'm not sure what will happen next but I'm rooting for Huck Finn.



Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:26 pm
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 1-6
USA Today (Jan 11, the Forum) has an article re: the 'N-word' having become an indelible part of the American lexicon. I was interested to read the opinion of Tukufu Zuberi (Prof. of Race Relations at the U of Penn.) re: the sanitizing of Twain's work... He says
Quote:
"the great literature teaches us about the nuances of culture in the past. If we take the N-word out of these books, we would end up cleaning up material which is helpful for us to understand the racism of the time in which those works were produced."
When asked his opinion on a court case condemning a journalist for using 'nigger' in the workplace (while black co-workers were allowed to use it) his comment was that at a job there are certain standards of appropriate language use. The commentator wonders how the case will fly in court. Will a different standard be applied for whites using the word, than for blacks? Would this be discrimination, an example of the 'unlawful employment' practice outlined in the 1964 Civil Rights Act? Ironic. I found the article interesting and pertinent here. (article by DeWayne Wickham)


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Sat Jan 15, 2011 11:00 pm
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 1-6
I think the word "nigger" in the book does answer my own question of why a film that is true to the book has never been made. It's rather remarkable to think about this one thing being a stopper, considering that in movies we have all manner of profanity, gratuitous violence, and sex, and it's all accepted. Yet I will say that given the history of race in this country, the word "nigger" is, indeed, more obscene than all of those things.


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Sun Jan 16, 2011 9:13 am
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 1-6
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DWill wrote:

Yet I will say that given the history of race in this country, the word "nigger" is, indeed, more obscene than all of those things.


It is only obscene because of all the baggage it carries. I've been thinking about this a lot since discussions on the subject in other threads.

I live in a little market town, in agricultural, rural Cheshire. On our market there is an old gentleman called 'Dennis', who is now in his eighties. He has run this greengrocery stall for sixty years. We shop there.

A few weeks ago we were awaiting our turn to be served when we noticed Dennis talking to a couple of Chinese people. He said, 'Don't you want any of this lemon grass?' They muttered something in reply. Then Dennis said, 'Well, I only get it for you 'Chinkies''....

The two Chinese people looked across at my husband and I, and laughed....because they could see that we were cringing...but they took it in the spirit in which is what meant.....and laughed.

Often, I think, when we are trying to be politically correct....we make problems where there aren't any.

Anyway....OH and I think it would be unforgiveable to alter Mark Twain's words. He is America's Charles Dickens. Every bit as good as Dickens as a writer. He writes it how it is. We like his travel books. He travelled with Thomas Cook, in the early days of that travel agent. Can't be bad.


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Sun Jan 16, 2011 10:33 am
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 1-6
Dawn wrote:
When asked his opinion on a court case condemning a journalist for using 'nigger' in the workplace (while black co-workers were allowed to use it) his comment was that at a job there are certain standards of appropriate language use. The commentator wonders how the case will fly in court. Will a different standard be applied for whites using the word, than for blacks? Would this be discrimination, an example of the 'unlawful employment' practice outlined in the 1964 Civil Rights Act? Ironic. I found the article interesting and pertinent here. (article by DeWayne Wickham)


I agree, this is pertinent, there are certainly plenty of examples of use of racial slurs and obscenities by members of that race, which seem to find some level of acceptability and I think are seen as signals of authenticity and a way to establish commonality. I'm not sure that this argument could be used to defend the use of 'nigger' in Huck Finn though, at least, I don't see the argument beyond the basic principle of use of terminology in a certain context and remaining true to that context.



Mon Jan 17, 2011 1:28 am
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 1-6
Penelope wrote:

Often, I think, when we are trying to be politically correct....we make problems where there aren't any.


I was listening to a CBC item the other day about censoring a 1980's Dire Straits song called "Money for Nothin' which includes the word 'faggot' .. the funny thing about the interview is that they kept saying the 'F word' rather than using the word ... so I thought they meant the other 'F word' because I had not heard the first part of the interview! I was wondering why they were making a fuss about that F word, until I figured out what they were actually talking about. I'm sure that words like 'faggot' and 'nigger' make most people uncomfortable and do carry some terrible meanings especially because they are used as labels for people and generally in a derogatory way. But I'm not sure that referring to them as the 'N word' or 'F word' makes any sense or is really more politically correct, its just the substitution of a silly, meaningless phrase for the actual word. It is the intent behind the use of language that makes a difference.



Mon Jan 17, 2011 1:43 am
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 1-6
Oh, I never realized 'faggot' was in 'Money for Nothin'.

I just love that album - my favourite song on it is Brothers in Arms.



Mon Jan 17, 2011 2:38 am
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 1-6
WildCityWoman wrote:
Oh, I never realized 'faggot' was in 'Money for Nothin'.

I just love that album - my favourite song on it is Brothers in Arms.


Yes, that is a great album ... this objectionable word is used in a song about a particularly obnoxious bigot and is written as if spoken by this person, hence the use of such language .. so the context is important .. still its an offensive word. It doesn't make me like this album any less though and I think we have to be careful of the slippery slope when it comes to censorship or we could easily lose our freedom of expression to bureaucrats and control freaks.



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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 1-6
I thought a faggot was a bundle of sticks for lighting fires.

It certainly appears as such in childrens' fairy stories.


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Mon Jan 17, 2011 3:09 pm
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 1-6
There's also a type of fishcake called 'faggots'.

My mother used to buy them years ago - they were done up in cone shapes - I really liked them.

I guess if faggots become popular again, they'll have to be called something else - ha ha! But they'll taste good just the same.



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Tue Jan 18, 2011 12:42 am
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 1-6
Penelope wrote:
I thought a faggot was a bundle of sticks for lighting fires.

It certainly appears as such in childrens' fairy stories.


Absolutely, a faggot is a bundle of sticks. I encountered this on a trip to Greece some years ago when that word was in more common usage ...somewhere in the Peloponese a man walked by with a donkey and the donkey was carrying a bundle of sticks and my friend could not help comment about the faggot on the donkey. Well, it was a bad joke from a long time ago.



Tue Jan 18, 2011 12:56 am
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