Huckleberry Finn and Jubilee: Historical Background

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Jeffrey You
AP English III- 7
17 September 2012
The Reconstruction Era and African Americans
Current events spur an author’s imagination and can be the basis for their novels. In The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and Jubilee by Margaret Walker, the ideologies in the Reconstruction Era are the foundations of their novels. Hence, major social and racial issues derived in the aftermath of the American Civil War immeasurably shaped the purpose of Mark Twain’s and Margaret Walker’s writing.

In Jubilee, the difficulties that African Americans faced drove the novel’s themes. It was 1865; and the North had won a vicious war against its southern brothers. Following the liberation of blacks, “the role of the emancipated slaves in Southern society had to be defined” (Reconstruction 1). At the start of the reconstruction period, a series of laws set by southern states known as the black codes restricted the rights and privileges afforded to blacks. Margaret Walker, whose family was affected by these laws, implemented the various injustices her people experienced into her novel. For example, Randall Ware remarks how “the white man is fighting education, land, and ballot for the Negroes” (Walker 472). In the novel, Vyry sends Jim to school specifically for African Americans. By becoming educated, he will be able to apply himself in society and voice his opinions. Randall Ware is kicked off his land and forced to sell for a low price simply because the whites want it. When he is elected into the Georgia State House, the infuriated white community removes him forcibly from the office despite fairly winning the election. The author clearly draws from the racial segregation African Americans were plagued with and presents their problems through the novel’s characters. By vividly giving her readers an African American’s perception of society, Walker hopes to instill consciousness about the equality issues a divided America. In comparison, The...
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