The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn ranks fifth on the American Library Association's list of the 100 most frequently challenged books of the 1990's. This well-known American novel by Mark Twain has been a controversial book since it was first published in the 1880's. The current debate centers around whether or not it should be taught in schools. Some people feel that it is far too offensive with its excessive use of the word "nigger" and that it openly stereotypes African Americans. On the other hand, some feel that the book has educational value because it includes lessons for its readers to relate to. It also describes race relations during pre-Civil War days. The lessons that can be learned from teaching "Huck Finn" far outweigh the controversial manner in which the novel is written.
Two very important themes from The Adventures of Huck Finn are the acceptance of others and the quest for freedom. Throughout the story, Huck learns a great deal about life, and the people who run it. Raised from the beginning to believe that slavery was fine and that blacks were inferior to whites, Huck soon learns differently from his travels with Jim, an African American slave. Over the many weeks Huck and Jim spend together, they each grow fond of one another and quickly bond their friendship. While this holds a lot of internal conflict for Huck, he decides in the end, that society's standards don't matter to him and he chooses to go with what he believes and says, "All right then, I"ll go to hell." (214). Huck doesn't care what the consequences are, just as long as he's doing what he feels is right. He learns the importance of thinking for himself, and not to judge others. The other main character, Jim, should not be looked at as an African American stereotype, but a man of courage who is seeking freedom to be reunited with his family. Although gaining freedom was his first priority, Jim was willing to risk his freedom and his life for his friend, Huck.