Happy Darky

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Throughout southern literature the "happy darky" character is a common character played in incredibly odd situations. The "happy darky" character is an African American character, who endures many struggles in life because of their race and social status in society, but throughout it all the character still remains in high spirits on the outside, but deep down inside the reader knows the hardships of the internal struggles which the character appears to hide.

The character Jim in Huckleberry Finn is an example of the southern literature character, the "happy darky". Jim, a runaway slave, displays an enormous amount of humanity throughout the novel. Jim wins the readers of Huckleberry Finn with his compassionate and humble approach to a society that has imprisoned him his whole life, which makes the readers forget that he is being rebellious and running away from slavery. Jim is made out to be a foul and has a horrible trick played on him dealing with his freedom by another character, Tom Sawyer. The trick was discourteous and awful but Jim playing the role of the "happy darky" remained composed and polite and helped Tom when he was in need. Jim puts his freedom on the line after knowing that he is being toyed with.

In Booker T. Washington's autobiography Up From Slavery Washington tells his journey from his childhood days of slavery to success. Even though he was raised poor and brought up in the worst way possible, he is never bitter towards his country nor his slave masters for his enslavement. Washington writes, "In conclusion, may I repeat that nothing in thirty years has given us more hope an encouragement, and drown us so near to you of the white race, as this opportunity offered by the Exposition; and here blending, as it were, over the altar that represents the results of the struggles of your race and mine, both starting practically empty-handed three decades ago… " (763). The quote is a powerful excerpt that gives many readers a...
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