A tricky situation. Books written a century or so ago aren’t going to have much coincidence with modern sensibilities. Huckleberry Finn uses the N word rather more than we would, for example.

But Mark Twain made it abundantly clear what he thought about racial discrimination, even in those days.

We can’t read Anne Frank without paying attention to the context. And do we really need to pretend that our current cultural environment is so lily-white? I was shocked to discover homeless people sleeping in the snow in the capital of the then richest nation on the planet. I doubt that things have changed much since 2005.

A few years later and I drove to the home of the Little House author, somewhere in Missouri, as I recall. It was a look at America in transition. She might have begun in a log cabin, but she ended in a Sears Roebuck catalogue home that was a wonder for its built-in cupboards.

She recorded the times and the culture.

Read the books, examine the moral lessons, but don’t give up on them. They are great stories, and if we start denying the past, then people will start to wonder what all that Civil War fuss was about and make the same mistakes.


Britni Pepper has always enjoyed telling stories. About people, places and pleasures.

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