Inequality in “Huckleberry Finn”, “The Little Friend” and “Let America be America Again”
Throughout history, inequality has been shown through slavery, the neglecting of rights and social status. Varying from racial group to financial class, inequality applies to a wide range of people all over the world. Since it is such an immense problem in society, it is often shown in literature as well. Being evident in both “Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain and “The Little Friend” by Donna Tartt, these works outline the fundamentals of unequal rights to different racial group and social statues. Although both sources reveal substantial inequality, both also show numerous examples of people standing up against inequality, striving towards a future with equal rights and fair treatment. Langston Hughes poem, “Let America be America Again”, portrays how unjust and cruel America was in the twentieth century. It gives a blunt description of the amount of racism and inequality that was seen. Langston Hughes’ poem helps to elaborate on what life was like in the eighteenth century when “Huckleberry Finn” took place and in the twentieth century when “The Little Friend” took place.
One of the main forms of inequality in the eighteenth century, twentieth century and even today manifests itself in racism. Claudia Johnson claims that some people believed and still do believe that the white race was superior to the black race. This opinion caused people to believe that black slavery was just, as it was even supported by the church and religions (Johnson pg 130).
“Huckleberry Finn” contains a great deal of racism, shown mostly through slavery. Jim, an African-American, was a run away slave. Back in the nineteenth century it was believed that if a slave ran away from his owner, he was breaking the seventh commandment, “thou shall not steal” (Johnson pg 130). This was a form of theft because the black slaves were “portrayed as a piece of property” (Johnson, pg 107) by society. Being sold by “Nigger Traders” (Clemens, pg 21) to white families was a common thing in that era. For example, in “Huckleberry Finn” the King sold the black slaves to a Nigger Trader, “the two sons [sold] up the river to Memphis and their mother [sold] down the river to Orleans” (Twain, pg 105). Jim and the other African-American slaves had no rights and were not thought of as a human being but rather as an object.
“The men was very huffy, and some of them wanted to hang Jim, for an example to all the other niggers around there, so they wouldn’t be trying to run away, like Jim had done” (Twain, pg 175). After Jim ran away, his life was threatened by the town’s people and he was returned to slavery. “I see it warn’t no use for me to try to learn to do right” (Twain, pg 110). After Jim saves Tom, putting himself in jeopardy, he is still put back into slavery. The town’s people didn’t see it as unselfish heroism, but rather as a black slave running away. (Johnson, pg 110). When Jim was on the run, he had to always be cautious of what he did, with fear that he would be found and taken as a slave once again.
In “The Little Friend”, African American men and women worked for white people as household help, but they were by no means their friends or peers (Hacht, pg 219). They lived in specific neighborhoods called “Niggertown” and attended schools apart from the white children. (Tartt, pg 129).
Ida, Harriet’s housekeeper, was treated with disrespect by Harriet’s mother. She blamed everything on Ida, “Ida knows good and well that she needs to-“ “It’s not Ida’s fault! Why does everyone blame everything on Ida?” (Tartt, pg 221) If anything ever went wrong in the house, it was always blamed on Ida. In this particular quote Ida is being blamed for the fact that Harriet didn’t take a bath that day. Harriet’s mother always made Ida do excessive amounts of work for little pay and no appreciation.
People in Harriet’s town were rude and very racist towards those who were...
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