Huckleberry Finn ( Huck Finn ) - Racism Essay
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Huck Finn Racism Is Huck Finn A Racist Book?
Ever since its publication over a hundred years ago, controversy has swarmed around one of Mark Twain’s most popular novels, Huck Finn. Even then, many educators supported its dismissal from school libraries. For post Civil-War Americans, the argument stemmed from Twain’s use of spelling errors, poor grammar, and curse words. In the politically correct 1990’s however, the point of argument has now shifted to one of the major themes of the book: Racism. John Wallace once said of the book, “It’s the most grotesque version of racist trash” ever written. Were Twain’s archetypal characters and use of vernacular language an assertion of his own racist views, or a critique of the injustice of…show more content…
Huck Finn is not racist: It is a profound social statement on the inhumanity of slavery and of every individual’s born right to freedom.
In chapter 32, Aunt Sally and Huck discuss a steamboat explosion:
“Good Gracious! Anyone hurt?” asks Aunt Sally. “ No’m. Killed a nigger.” “ Well it’s lucky; because sometimes people do get hurt.” This passage highlights Twain’s use of satire. On the surface, it could easily be interpreted as dehumanizing and bigoted, but Twain only uses it to reveal the cold truths of white attitudes in the 1800’s. It also presents the fact that Aunt Polly, one of the simplest and gentlest characters in the book, does not think twice about the violent death of a black person. While disguised as racism, Twain cleverly breaks down white-black relations to the inanities of prejudice.
Less subtle are Huck’s observations of Jim as their relationship progresses. Jim at first is nothing but a source of amusement for Huck, but Huck slowly discovers the real person inside. In Chapter 23, Huck states, “…I do believe that he cared just as much for his people as white folks does for ther’n.” Later, Huck goes even further to say, “I knowed Jim was really white inside.” From Huck, this naïve statement was the highest compliment he could have given Jim, and reiterates the idea that a black man can have true emotions and real feelings, something that was not commonly believed at the
Kevin AshuMs. TeeplesHonors Junior English /34/13/09Over 200 “N’s”The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is a book which addresses the issuesof race and slavery in the slave-holding South of the early 19th century. It tells the story of Huck Finn, who’s drunken, abusive father forced him to run away from home, and the story of Jim, arunaway slave who profoundly wishes for himself and his family to be free. Huck and Jim become unlikely allies, in an almost symbiotic relationship when they both run away from their “masters” at the same time. They journey down the Mississippi River on a raft in an attempt toescape their suppressors. Throughout their journey, Huck matures from an immature racist boy toa compassionate young man. Although many characters in the book are racist and have norespect for blacks, Huck Finn, when taken as a whole, uses satire, feelings, speech and irony to preach tolerance and shows that slavery is wrong.Before one can entirely comprehend the novel, one must understand the time period andculture in which it was written. Although the word “nigger” is now considered extremely rudeand offensive, it was not so during the time period in which Twain wrote this novel. Huck grewup in a slave-holding town in Missouri, so racism was innate (Unit 13) in him from a very youngage. Throughout Huck Finn, African Americans are constantly referred to as “niggers.” Althoughsome characters, such as Huck’s father, were racist, complaining that the government must “setstock-still for six whole months before it can take a-hold of a prowling, thieving, infernal, white-shirted free nigger,” (p. 36) other characters, such as Mary Jane, were very attached to blacks.She was crying, “and it was the niggers” (p. 181) that were causing her to cry, because they were being sold and the `family was going to be separated. These events show that the word “nigger”