top-rated free essay

Huck Finn-Racism

Oct 08, 1999 599 Words
By: HJK

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 White society? Many readers misinterpret racist remarks by characters in the novel as reflections of Twain's own beliefs supporting slavery. These claims, though, can be easily repudiated by some of Twain's comparisons between whites and blacks made outside of Huck Finn; for instance when he said, "One of my theories is that the hearts of men are all alike, all over the world, whatever their skin complexion may be". This brings into question the reason for Twain's frequent use of the word "nigger", not to mention the exceedingly racist views harbored by most characters. It is true that the book is peppered with racist stereotypes, lewd remarks belittling blacks, and the use of the word "nigger" over 200 times, but it is all part of the irony. Twain wrote this book not only to challenge the system of slavery, but also to do so with the most effective of literary devices: the truth. 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 time. All of this leads to the main point Twain was attempting to make by writing Huck Finn. This book illustrates the possibility of a real friendship across even the strictest social boundaries of race and class. Huck Finn is not only a classic piece of American literature, but also a heartfelt statement against slavery, and a clever ridicule of the duplicity of White America.

Word Count: 579

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • Huck Finn Racism

    ...extreme cases the book, Huckleberry Finn, has been banned from some schools because of the depiction of racial tension towards Jim, the black slave, in Huckleberry Finn. This story takes place at a time where slavery was considered moral. Blacks were considered inferior to whites, but Huckleberry challenges the notion that he was raised upon. Th...

    Read More
  • Racism in Huck Finn

    ...Racism in Huck Finn Ever since it was written, Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn has been a novel that many people have found disturbing. Although some argue that the novel is extremely racist, careful reading will prove just the opposite. In recent years especially, there has been an increasing debate over what some will call the ...

    Read More
  • Huck Finn

    ..."I felt so lonesome I most wished I was dead" (221). Mark Twain's, "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," is a tale about a boy in search for a family and a place he can truly call home. Through his adventure, he rids himself of a father that is deemed despicable by society, and he gains a father that society hasn't even deemed as a man. This lone...

    Read More
  • Huck Finn

    ...September 2013 Huck Finn’s Moral Development “The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn” is a classic novel written by Mark Twain. The story tells of a young man Huck Finn and his friend Jim, a slave, starting an adventure toward the freedom of Jim. The adventure is not only full with excitement, but also full of moral for Huck to learn. In the...

    Read More
  • Huck Finn

    ...students from historical realities in a piece of classic literature, simply because some content is inappropriate? The question of whether or not the novel “Huck Finn,” by Mark Twain should be banned in schools strikes a lot of controversy. I believe the answer to this question is no, it should not be banned. One of the most controversial e...

    Read More
  • Huck Finn

    ...The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a classical novel that has been considered a masterpiece throughout history, but the book also displays a very controversial side to it. The novel displays power characters and a touching storyline, which helps the story so moving. Consequently, people have hatred towards the novel because they believe the n...

    Read More
  • Huck Finn

    ...people living there, convincing them of the humanity of slavery. Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn tells the story of Huck Finn, a young redneck boy, who finds friendship in a runaway slave named Jim, despite his own racist background. Though Huck and Jim bond throughout their journey, Huck struggles to overcome the way he was rais...

    Read More
  • Huck Finn

    ...human? In the book The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn we see a boy by the name of Huck have a change in mindset on his African American friend Jim. Huck starts off with the normal mindset of society in his period of time. This though changes throughout the book. We see Huck view Jim as inhuman, to a human who is also his best friend. At the ...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.