University of Puerto Rico at Humacao English Department

Censorship

By:
Arlene Alverio Denisse Díaz Laura Vargas
INGL 3251-001 Prof. Luz I. Vega April 13, 2007

Censorship Defined…
Censorship is the suppression of ideas and information that certain persons -- individuals, groups or government officials -- find objectionable or dangerous.

Censorship Defined…
It is no more complicated than someone saying, "Don't let anyone read this book, or buy that magazine, or view that film, because I object to it!"

Censors
Censors try to use the power of the state to impose their view of what is truthful and appropriate, or offensive and objectionable, on everyone else. The censor wants to

Censors
Censors pressure public institutions, like libraries, to suppress and remove from public access information they judge inappropriate or dangerous, so that no one else has the chance to read or view the material and make up their own minds

Top 10 Banned Classics…
1. Ulysses by James Joyce
Banned on Sexual Grounds

2. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Banned on Social Grounds

3. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Banned on Sexual Grounds

Top 10 Banned Classics…
4. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Censored on Social Grounds

5. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Banned for Language Concerns

6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Top 10 Banned Classics…
7. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Banned with complaints about the language used

8. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
Banned for its sexually explicit nature

9.

Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
Challenged on Sexual Grounds

10. Candide by Voltaire

Biography of a Censored Author

Mark Twain
• Born on November 30, 1835 in Missouri, USA • Born as Samuel Langhorne Clemens • Used “Mark Twain” as a pen name for his literary works. It came from his years of working on Mississippi riverboats. • "By the mark twain" meant "according to the mark [on the line], [the depth is] two fathoms" A fathom is the name of a unit of length in

Mark Twain
• While growing up, his family owned slaves. • Mark Twain’s father owned one slave and his uncle owned several. • In fact, it was on his uncle's farm that Sam spent many boyhood summers playing in the slave quarters, listening to tall tales and the slave spirituals that he would enjoy throughout his life. • The events of his personal life further demonstrate his role as an eyewitness to history.

Mark Twain
• In 1888, Twain earned a Master of Arts degree from Yale University. • He then was awarded two honorary Doctor of Letters degrees from Yale in 1901, and the University of Missouri in 1902.

Mark Twain
• His first important work, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, was first published in the New York Saturday Press on November 18, 1865.

Mark Twain
• Twain is most noted for his novels Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (which has since been called a Great American Novel. And The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Mark Twain
• Huckleberry Finn, solidified him as a great American writer after the production of what some call the elusive great American novel. • It is a masterpiece of humor, characterization, and realism, and has been called the first (and sometimes the best) modern American novel.

Mark Twain
• Mark Twain also was an American humorist, satirist, writer, journalist, and lecturer. • Like any good journalist, Sam Clemens/Mark Twain spent his life observing and reporting on his surroundings. • In his writings he provided images of the romantic, the real, the strengths and weaknesses of a rapidly changing world. • By examining his life and his works, we can read into the past - piecing together various events of the era and the responses to them.

Mark Twain
• We can also dive into the American mindset of the late nineteenth century and make our own observations of history, discover new connections, create new inferences and gain better insights into the time period and the people who lived in it. • As Twain once wrote, "Supposing is good, but finding out is better”.

Mark Twain
• In 1909, Twain is quoted as saying :
– “I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don't go out with Halley's Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: 'Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in

Mark Twain
• Samuel Langhorne Clemens died of angina pectoris on April 21, 1910 in Redding, Connecticut. • So, he did come and go with Halley’s Comet.

View of a Censored Book

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
• First published in 1885 • It was also one of the first major American novels ever written using Local Color Realism or the vernacular, or common speech, being told in the first person by Huckleberry "Huck" Finn, best friend of Tom Sawyer (hero of three other Mark Twain books).

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
• Twain's novel tells the simple story of a boy named Huck and his adventures with a grown up slave named Jim. • Huck helps Jim flee as they escape on a raft in search of freedom down the Mississippi River. 

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
• Because of Huck’s upbringing, he starts out believing that slavery is part of the natural order; but as the story unfolds he wrestles with his conscience, and when the crucial moment comes he decides he will be “damned to the flames of hell rather than betray his black friend”.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
• Jim, as Twain presents him, is hardly a caricature. Rather, he is the moral center of the book, a man of courage and nobility, who risks his freedom -- risks his life -- for the sake of his friend Huck.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
• Because of this book, Mark Twain has been seriously accused by some of being a "racist writer," whose writing is offensive to black readers, perpetuates cheap slaveera stereotypes, and deserves no place on today's bookshelves.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
• The book has been called racist because of it’s use of the word “nigger” • The word is used 215 times in the book.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
• That word, in the history of America, has always been a degrading word toward African Americans. • When they were brought to America, they were never thought of as human beings in the first place, and this word was something to call a thing that wasn't human.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
• Why is it censored? • Stereotypes in his portrayal of the character Jim, • Excessive use of the racial slur "nigger," • And a paternalistic attitude toward African Americans are among the charges made against Twain by his would-be censors.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
• In the United States, there have been occasional efforts to restrict the reading of the book. In addition to its Concord ban, it has, at various times, also been:
– excluded from the juvenile sections of the Brooklyn Public library and other libraries – removed from public and school libraries because of its "racist" plot.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
• But what is the book really about? – It's about nothing less than freedom and the quest for freedom. It's about a slave who breaks the law and risks his life to win his freedom and be reunited with his family, and a white boy who becomes his friend and helps him

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
• Twain in this book is actually ironic. • Jim was not only a slave but a human being and a symbol of humanity . . . and in freeing Jim, Huck makes a bid to free himself of the conventionalized evil taken for civilization by the town" -- in other words, of the

Page by page online book:
http://etext.virginia.edu/railton/huckfinn/hucprohp.html

Questions?