Huckleberry Finn ( Huck Finn ) - Racism Essay
572 Words3 Pages
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
Huck Finn Racism Essay
723 Words3 Pages
Huck Finn Racism
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a Mark Twain classic, wonderfully demonstrates pre-Civil War attitudes about blacks held by whites. Twain demonstrates these attitudes through the actions and the speech of Huckleberry Finn, the narrator, and Jim, Miss Watson's slave. These two main characters share a relationship that progresses from an acquaintance to a friendship throughout the novel. It is through this relationship that Mark Twain gives his readers the realization of just how different people's attitudes were before the Civil War. Twain also reveals the negative attitudes of whites toward blacks by the cruel manner in which Jim is treated with such inferiority.
The beginning of Huck and Jim's…show more content…
Although Huck is a bit racist to Jim at the beginning of their journey, the negative attitude held by Huck begins to fizzle as their adventure continues on. The more Huck and Jim go through together, the closer the two become. Huck begins to see Jim as a friend and vice versa. By the end of their journey, Huck disagrees with society's idea that blacks are inferior. One example of this is evident when Huck doesn't tell anyone of Jim's whereabouts. Huck doesn't tell anyone because he knows that if he does, Jim will be forced to return to slavery. Instead, Huck chooses to "go to Hell" for his decision. He has shied away from society's acceptance of slavery. One of the ways Twain exposes the folly of the negative attitudes toward blacks is through describing the whites' cruel and pointless acts of hatred directed toward Jim. The least severe of the cruel acts toward Jim is that whites often ridicule him. Another dehumanizing act is when Jim is made to hide his face in the daytime. The most foolish and ignorant idea of the whites, however, is when Silas Phelps locked up Jim. Another demonstration of the whites' folly is when Pap, Huck's father, violently objects to the granting of suffrage to a black man. Pap does not take into consideration that this man is an educated professor; he believes that he is superior to this black man simply because of the color of his skin. In actuality, however, Pap is an uneducated drunk. This adds to the irony of the white's actions.