Racism in Huckleberry Finn

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Is 'The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn' a Racist Novel?

While many people only beginning this book will say that it is a racist novel, if you open your eyes to the undertones of the story you will see that it really is not. Twain may have chosen racial diction, but we need to remember the time period the story takes place in. It takes place in the 1800s, when slavery was still going on. Certain words that we consider racist were much more commonly used then. Twain uses these words to get his point across.

Twain draws attention to the racial issues of the 1800s , but not by outright stating the problems of the era. He draws attention to them by illustrating the adventures of a thirteen year old white boy, Huckleberry Finn and a slave named Jim. He slowly reveals that ,while the novel deals with racial issues indirectly, the book is truly about friendship. We start this when Twain brings Tom Sawyer into the story. Tom was Huck’s friend in the opening chapters of the book. He had convinced a band of boys to form a gang and have adventures like the ones he'd read in books. However after a month, the boys in the gang got bored and quit. Tom’s adventures are all flops. They didn’t kill or “ransom” anyone, or steal anything which was what the gang was supposed to do. This was symbolic of the lack of trust in friendships. Shortly after the end of the gang Huck’s father shows up and takes him away secluded from the outside world.

Eventually Huck escapes from the cabin he shares with his father. He goes to Jackson’s Island to hideout after he faked his death. While on the island he finds Miss Watson’s slave Jim. Jim had run away the night after Huck’s “death”. Now everyone believes Jim was responsible for his death instead of Huck’s father. In a beginning act of their friendship, Jim protects Huck from seeing the “gashly” sight of a dead man in a house that was floating by in the river. In the final chapter of the book we find that the...
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