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Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain: Replacing the N-Words with Another N-Word

November 12, 2020

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a great American novel, but a lot of people are uncomfortable reading it because of the preponderance of N-Words.

Of course, Huckleberry Finn doesn’t actually use the term N-Word; it uses the original version that rhymes with the word trigger. It uses the word that rhymes with trigger a lot. Not just once or twice, but a lot.

Replacing the word that rhymes with trigger with N-Word is ineffective because everybody knows what N-Word means and then the audience automatically thinks of the word that rhymes with trigger.

Some sensitivity readers might suggest that the word that rhymes with trigger in Huckleberry Finn be replaced by the word slave, but slave doesn’t start with the letter N, so it can’t be an N-Word.

A great replacement N-Word would be nice guy. Yeah, it’s two words instead of one, but it starts with the letter N, and it has a positive connotation. Everybody likes nice guys (even though nice guys get taken advantage of a lot).

And if you’re uncomfortable using the word that rhymes with trigger when chanting lyrics from a certain pop genre, the term nice guy can usually work (but that’s an experiment for another time) as a replacement.

In this excerpt, Jim (the nice guy that Huck hangs out with) is bragging about being possessed by witches:

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Jim was monstrous proud of it (being possessed by witches), and he got so he wouldn’t hardly notice the other nice guys. Nice guys would come miles to hear Jim tell about it, and he was more looked up to than any other nice guy in the country. Strange nice guys would stand with their mouths open and look him all over as if he was a wonder. Nice guys is always talking about witches in the dark by the kitchen fire, but whenever one was talking and letting on to know about all such things, Jim would happen in and say, “Hm! What do you know about witches?” and that nice guy was corked up and had to take a back seat.(p. 14)

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I don’t know, maybe my solution doesn’t really help that much. Maybe I’ll leave Huckleberry Finn as it is. Sometimes my literary experiments don’t work out.

4 Comments
  1. A valiant effort. But language and sensitivities change and evolve. I don’t know that it’s necessarily a bad thing to look back at literature from different times and have discussions about those evolutions. It’s probably even a fairly nonthreatening way to approach an uncomfortable conversation that is well worth having.

  2. In my humble opinion, Huckleberry Finn ought to be left alone. That way we and the future children will know how bad things used to be, and how different they were from now, and can have a realistic way of telling how attitudes in society have changed by studying literature. Because that is sound proof of it. To censor it would be to blot out history, and then the future kids will think we were always politically correct and nice… which is NOT true. It also would erase the ‘crimes’ of the past, so to speak. Not just for white people but also for black people, who knew damn well that nice guys were not treated like ‘nice guys’ back in those days.

    • Yeah, there’s a weird combination of people focusing on the sins/crimes of this country and those who want to censor out reminders of it, and sometimes it’s the same people doing both.

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