Brooke A. Andrade
Honors English III.
27 September 2012
Racism throughout Huckleberry Finn
“But I reckon I got to light for the territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can’t stand it. I been there before” (Twain 279). In Huckleberry Finn, Huck tires of living in a civilized society, and escapes through the means of a river with a “nigger” named Jim. Although Twain is considered racist by some critics, he truly just reflects the time period including racism, education, and freedom, as evident through various themes and character relationships. However, Huck raised to believe racist thoughts, was able to overcome society and his father’s beliefs, and strike out as his own man. From an early age Huck was brainwashed to conform to society’s beliefs by his father, Pap Finn. Pap Finn was extremely racist and stubborn minded towards change. Pap Finn refused his right to vote just because there was a state in the country that would let “niggers” vote. “Thinks I, what is the country a’ coming to? It was ‘lection day, and I was just about to go and vote myself if I warn’t too drunk to get there; but when they told me there was a state in this country where they’d let that nigger vote, I drawed out” (Twain 26). Huck, unlike his father, did not adapt to society’s beliefs, but created his own thoughts and opinions (Themes-Education). However, Huck was not the only one to overthrow society’s thoughts. At the end of the novel, The Doctor separated from society’s ideas by supporting Jim saying that he was a good nigger and did not deserve to be treated harshly (Twain 271). “Don’t be no rougher on him then you’re obleeged to, because he ain’t a bad nigger” (Twain 271). At this point the Doctor saw that no race was superior to any other (Rasmussen 203). The Widow Douglas adopted Huck and tried to civilize him to be a proper young boy of society (Twain 1). “The widow Douglas she took me for her son, and allowed she would sivilize me; but it was rough living in the house all the time, considering how dismal regular and decent the widow was in all her ways; and so when I couldn’t stand it no longer I lit out” (Twain 1). Huck resisted all of society's teachings to show that he was a free spirit who did not want to be contained by Pap, the Widow Douglas, or society (Twain 279). Throughout the novel, Huck is developed by the education he receives along the way. Huck, towards the end, knows what he wants and completely departs from society’s thoughts and beliefs (Themes- Education). Sally Phelps was another influence that was going to try to civilize Huck. The Phelps family was the only family Huck encountered that was functional. Huck found this discomforting since every family he had been with was defective, including his own (Themes- Civilized Society). The Mississippi river was a symbol of freedom to Huck and Jim; it was an escape from the society they ran from (Grade Saver- Mississippi River). Huck used the river to run away from his abusive alcoholic father, and from his teachings. Jim used the river to escape slavery from Mrs. Watson and to keep from being separated from his family (Twain 41). “Well, one night I creeps to de do’ poorty late, en de do’ warn’t quite shet, en I hear old missus tell de wider she gwyne to sell me down to Orleans, but she didn’ want to, but she could get eight hund’d dollars for me, en it ‘uz sich a big stack o’ money she couldn’ resis’. De widder she try to git her to say she wouldn’t do it, but I never waited to hear de res’. I lit out mighty quick, I tell you” (Twain 42). This quote portrayed Jim's thought process towards society. Jim knew that if he was sold to a slave collector then he would never see his family again, but if he escaped he would at least have a chance. Money was also the equivalent to freedom. Unlike Jim, Huck possessed a relaxed attitude towards wealth, and because he had a plethora...
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