Sunday, March 17, 2013

Huck Finn, and how it led me to do something I never thought I'd do...

*The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.

Oh my. Seems I have to confirm my heathen status yet again. I just didn't love this book. Which isn't the same as saying I wish I hadn't read it, of course. So no, I would not go as far as saying that I'm sorry that I chose it for one of our homeschool reads this year.

Why didn't I love it? Mostly I think it's that I'm generally not thrilled with episodic type books. And frankly, I didn't find some of the "adventures" all that interesting. Honestly, there were times when all I could think was, "Can't we just move along here?!!" But the overall story of Huck and Jim and their relationship--that I did enjoy. And I loved the way we got to watch Huck wrestle with his conflicted notions between what he grew up learning was right and what he just somehow felt was right.

But dammit...I did something that I never ever ever thought I would do in a million years. I censored a book for my kiddo. :/ See, I literally took a Sharpie to it and blacked out a sentence:

I don't feel good about it, and we'll definitely be having another discussion on censorship...though do I now have as much credibility when I tell him how emphatically I still disagree with it? It's not that I want the line stricken from the book--it's that I don't want this particular child to read it. Because I know how it would affect him. It would devastate him and send him into a state that it would take days for him to come out of. In case you're interested, here's the sentence (but to warn you, the reason is because of animal skip the quote if you choose):

There wasn't anything that could wake them up all over, and make them happy all over, like a dog-fight--unless it might be putting turpentine on a stray dog and setting fire to him, or tying a tin pan to his tail and see him run himself to death.

The sentence had nothing at all to do with the story. It felt completely gratuitous, and I just couldn't stomach the idea of that one damn sentence ruining not only the book for Gray, but the following few days of his life. Yes, my mega-sensitive child will have to, already does have to, face things which upset him immensely. This world is not always a pretty place. But this time, I just had to save him from the tears and the trouble sleeping that this would bring. I had to.

*sigh* It's not that I regret my actions, but I do admit it leaves me feeling a bit conflicted. Slippery slopes and all that.


Jean said...

I would be interested in hearing Gray's reaction to the censoring. I am sure that he probably asked (or will ask) why you did it. I expect it will lead to a good discussion. At the same time, I wonder if it will make him even more curious about what was there in the old forbidden fruit way.

Chris Howard said...

I think it was a wise thing for you to censor that for Gray…you know him well Debi and what you did was loving and saving him from unneeded cruelty that did nothing to further the plot. It's a disgusting sentence. Why would somebody even write that? Not a book I ever plan on reading anyway, lol. But like Jean said, I imagine this will lead to a good discussion between the two of you on censorship! He's so lucky to have you as a teacher my dear. In "censoring" (and I put that in quotes because I think you were parenting here not so much censoring) here, you've opened up an excellent opportunity to actually talk about the idea of censorship and it's benefits and negative effects! Someting very meta about that :p

Megan said...

Huck Finn is one of those strange books where seeing the movie with young Elijah Wood in it maybe actually helped me like the book more. LOL!

I'm not for censorship or anything, but I don't think that you should feel terribly conflicted either. Sheltering your own child from something that you know would devastate him until he's mature enough to handle the more devastating things the world has to throw at him is, in my exceedingly humble and inexperienced opinion, just good parenting. :)

Ali said...

I think you did the right thing, Debi. You allowed your sensitive boy to learn from the book while protecting him from an abhorrent image of animal cruelty. These books were written for adults, not children, and I think Mr. Twain would have approved.

By the way, one of the main characters in the new book I just started writing happens to be a sensitive boy named Grayson. :-)

Vasilly said...

Debi, you know your son better than anyone else. If that sentence would affect him, you know it. I do understand the feelings of conflict. It happens.:-)

Eva said...

I think you did the right thing! I wish I had someone to go through books before I read them & black out gratuitous sexual violence for me. Also, ugh on the quote. I'm not a Twain girl & that passage just re-affirmed it.

I was *huge* animal lover when I was little & I remember I got The Yearling for Christmas one year from relatives & Mom told me I probably shouldn't read it. I trusted her & didn't & now that I know the plot I'm v glad for that! I did read My Friend Flicka & Where the Red Fern Grows and both made me bawl my eyes out for days.

Heather said...

I don't have a problem with censoring, when I know the person (or child) isn't ready to read something. There is a time and place for everything, and knowing your child can't handle something, and protecting them from it, is the right thing to do. There will come a time when he's old enough to handle it, you will know WHEN it is that time, and can share with them then.

You totally did the right thing.

I remember reading a book by my (then) favorite author where an animal will cruely and unnecessarily killed. I was traumatized for DAYS and never read that author again. I wish someone had saved me from that. :\

Love you!

Heather said...

an animail WAS cruelly

Wow, my grammar is taking a hitting today. lol

Heather said...

Good Lord, I give up. ANIMAL. *sigh* :D

Ana @ things mean a lot said...

What Heather said. Mathie's mom works with an animal protection non-profit and every now and then she shares HORRIFIC stories about animals they found and rescued. When she and Mathie are talking on Skype and she's about to start one of these stories, he'll immediately grab his headphones and plug them in. This is something I'm incredibly grateful for, because we both know those stories will put images in my head that will upset me for days. Unlike Gray I'm an adult, so this was a decision we got to make together rather than something he decided on his own - but I have a feeling that when Gray's older and you explain this to him, he'll feel similarly to me about it.