Overcoming Racism In Huckleberry Finn By Mark Twain

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A comment made by the author Shelby Foote in a YouTube video sparked a discussion between my friend and I. Foote argued that Huck Finn is the biggest racist in the book, whereas my friend argued that due to the environment in which Huck grew up, he did not know any better and therefore, Huck was not racist. I had to disagree with both of these statements, because although Huck was raised to have racist roots, his actions prove that he is not the biggest racist in the book, yet we cannot let racism slip just because Huck did not know any better. Throughout his life, Huck Finn works his way towards overcoming racism, but often leans back on his racist upbringing, resulting in a back and forth progression towards equality.
Mark Twain chooses
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Huck feels bad that Miss Watson’s slave is going to be sold down to New Orleans, so Huck contemplates writing to Tom Sawyer to relay the message to Miss Watson about Jim’s whereabouts. Huck felt so conflicted about being a “bad boy” and wanting to save Jim that he knelt down and prayed to be a better boy. He had trouble praying, and he discovered that he cannot pray a lie, so he decided he will try again after he penned a letter concerning Jim. Huck Finn wrote “Miss Watson your runaway nigger Jim is down here two mile below Pikesville and Mr. Phelps has got him and he will give him up for the reward if you send.” Thus, Huck finally decided to conform to society’s pressure, and turn in Jim. However, after thinking about all that Jim and Huck had been through, and how Jim thought of him as his best friend, Huck realized he could never turn in Jim. Huck then precedes to tear up the paper, saying “all right, then, I’ll go to hell.” This demonstration exhibits the point in the story where Huck Finn realizes that Jim is a person and not an object to be toyed with, and takes a giant leap forward in his journey to …show more content…
Influences like Pap and Miss Watson caused Huck to have an idea of how black people should be treated—with no rights and as a slave to those who were white. In this sense, Huck Finn is racist. However, through Huck’s journey with Jim to freedom, he begins to form his own opinions about racism and how Jim should be treated. Some may say that Huck Finn was never racist, because the environment in which he was raised and the lack of education he attained kept him from knowing any different. I, however, disagree with the theory that one is not racist if they do not know any better. I believe that somebody who didn’t know any better had to eventually overcome that standard, and realize the atrocity of racism and slavery. That person could have been Huck, but Huck does not quite come that close to overcoming racism. In some sense, Huck Finn is still racist, in the way he uses the word “nigger” and the way he views himself for helping Jim- as a terrible human being. However, Huck grows closer to equality in the way that he treats Jim, as a person. Although Huck is not completely innocent, he is not the biggest racist either, as proven in his development of his character and his interactions regarding

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