Magazine | February 23, 2015, Issue

Great Works of American Fiction: No Trigger Warnings Needed

A note to educators: The following editions of American “classics” have been carefully reviewed and edited with regard to insensitive and inaccurate portrayals of people of color (POCs) and non–traditionally gendered persons. Every attempt has been made to retain the basic storyline and character details of the original texts, though occasionally small adjustments have been made to avoid giving shock or offense to non-cisgenders/POCs/allies.

Excerpts below.

From: The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne

“Goodwives,” said a hard-featured dame of 50, herself a victim of a patriarchy with unchecked privilege, “I’ll tell ye a piece of my mind. It would be greatly for the public behoof if we women, being of mature age and church-members in good repute, should have the handling of such malefactresses as this Hester Prynne. What think ye, gossips? If the hussy stood up for judgment before us five, that are now here in a knot together, would she come off with such a sentence as the worshipful magistrates have awarded? Marry, I trow not.”

The townspeople turned from this speech in hurt and offense. Soon the dame was offered gifts of counseling and education and was required to tweet an apology to Goody Prynne, whose daughter, Pearl, would later be a popular performer on the stage.

From: Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville

We had lain thus in bed, chatting and napping at short intervals, and Queequeg now and then affectionately throwing his brown tattooed legs over mine, each time being so correct as to ask for my express verbal consent, and each time receiving it, and then drawing them back whenever it so seemed that my consent was coerced or the result of a micro-aggression on his part, and I, mindful of his status as an Indigenous Pacific Islander, who through luck or Providence — though there is no such thing, as we all know — had survived the Genocide that my people visited upon his, felt duty bound to give my consent for this and more, much more, so as to make up in some small way for the actions of my people against his in the past and in the present. So, anyways, what little nappishness remained in us altogether departed, and we felt like getting up again, though day-break was yet some way down the future. “Shall we be married?” asked the Indigenously Inked Royal. “Perhaps yes,” was my reply. Which was taken as further express verbal consent, though it really wasn’t, but that was okay . . .

From: Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain

Well, pretty soon the lady from Child Protective Services came down to see about Old Pap, and before I knew it he was taken away for court-supervised alcohol treatment and parenting classes, which pleased me a fair piece, because Old Pap surely needed to be treated for his disease, and Lord knows we all needed to break the cycle of violence that often travels in families that don’t address their issues. So with Pap away I took the opportunity to sit and smoke and think about my own issues, which was when I came upon Miss Watson’s Jim! I bet I was glad to see him. I says:

“Hello, Jim!” and skipped out.

He bounced up and stared at me wild. Then he drops down on his knees, and puts his hands together and says:

“Doan’ hurt me — don’t! I hain’t ever done no harm to a ghos’. I awluz liked dead people, en done all I could for ’em. You go en git in de river agin, whah you b’longs, en doan’ do nuffn to Ole Jim, ’at ’uz awluz yo’ fren’.”

“That’s awfully offensive dialect,” I said. “I really do insist that you stop that. It literally hurts my ears.”

“Sorry, Huck,” Jim said. “I didn’t see who it was. Within a certain context, this dialect is appropriate among members of the race it’s supposed to demean, as we’ve appropriated it and subverted it in order to critique the unquestioned power structure.”

“I really admire how you’ve problematized the whole notion of dialect and patois,” I said to Jim.

“Please don’t condescend to me,” he replied. “That’s really offensive.”

“I am so sorry,” I cried out, and immediately set about posting a general apology on my Tumblr.

From: Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe

CHAPTER I

In Which the Reader Is Introduced to a Man of Humanity

Late in the afternoon of a chilly day in February, two gentlemen were sitting alone over their wine, in a well-furnished dining parlor, in the town of P –  — , in Kentucky. There were no servants present, and the gentlemen, with chairs closely approaching, seemed to be discussing some subject with great earnestness.

THE END

In This Issue

Articles

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A Hand Withheld

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Features

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Foreign Policy by Map

George W. Bush left office with his activist foreign policy in disrepute. Fast-forward six years: President Barack Obama has pursued, in some respects, the opposite approach, and yet he has ...

Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

Midcentury Mores

Edward Mendelson is one of our mandarin humanistic intellectuals — Lionel Trilling Professor in the Humanities at Columbia, literary executor of the estate of W. H. Auden, an expert on ...
Politics & Policy

Bloody Crossroads Redux

There have been two great political wars this Oscar season, and both have involved American liberals’ complex relationship with the movies. What makes this relationship complicated is that liberals have ...
City Desk

The City, from Afar

The road follows the right angles of everything out here, farms, townships, counties, states. On either side, fields showing stubble. Thick gnarly trees mark homesteads and cemeteries. Where the land ...

Sections

Athwart

Lifespan Liberalism

There’s no shortage of studies that attempt to show how liberals and conservatives are different species who happen to share hominid form. Liberals are conveniently revealed by Cold Science to ...
Politics & Policy

Poetry

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Politics & Policy

Letters

Contraception, Continued Robert VerBruggen agues that pro-lifers should support the promotion of contraceptives that sometimes may act as abortifacients (“On a LARC,” December 31). The death rate for unimplanted embryos is ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ Vaccines seem to do strange things to the mind — at least for politicians. ‐ Wisconsin governor Scott Walker took an early, if narrow, lead in a poll of Iowa Republicans. ...

Most Popular

PC Culture

Defiant Dave Chappelle

When Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special Sticks & Stones came out in August, the overwhelming response from critics was that it was offensive, unacceptable garbage. Inkoo Kang of Slate declared that Chappelle’s “jokes make you wince.” Garrett Martin, in the online magazine Paste, maintained that the ... Read More
Film & TV

Joker: An Honest Treatment of Madness

When I saw that the New York Times and The New Yorker had run columns berating the new Joker movie, criticizing it not simply on cinematic grounds but instead insisting that the film amounted to a clandestine defense of “whiteness” in an attempt to buttress the electoral aim of “Republicans” — this is a ... Read More
Culture

The Origins of the Transgender Movement

Editor’s Note: This article has been adapted from remarks delivered at a Heritage Foundation summit. I’ve been asked to talk about the origins of transgenderism and how it relates to children and their exploitation. But first, I would like to start with a little story. Yesterday I was wandering around ... Read More
Elections

The Democrats’ Disastrous CNN LGBT Town Hall

A few days after Donald Trump committed the worst foreign-policy blunder of his presidency by betraying America’s Kurdish allies in northern Syria, former vice president Joe Biden, the elder statesman and co-frontrunner in the Democratic presidential primary, was on a national stage talking to CNN’s primetime ... Read More
White House

What Is Impeachment For?

W hat is impeachment for? Seems like a simple question. Constitutionally speaking, it also appears to have a simple answer: to cite and remove from power a president guilty of wrongdoing. Aye, there’s the rub. What sort of wrongdoing warrants removal from power? I’d wager that the flames of ... Read More
Elections

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