Race Relations In Huck Finn

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Race relations have been a major issue in the United States since colonial times. Throughout the nation’s history authors have attempted to address this issue within literary works. One of the most notable examples is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. When this exemplary novel was published in 1885, the United States was still recovering from a brutal civil war and tension between the newly freed slaves and whites was high as the once-slaves were attempting to find their niche within society. The minority had fallen under a stereotype developed by minstrel shows which aimed to dehumanize them. Mark Twain uses an escaped slave, Jim and Huck, a 14 year old boy running from his abusive father as the main characters in the novel …show more content…
For example, early in the book Twain illustrates Huck observing Jim’s fortune telling abilities. “Jim put the quarter under the hair-ball, and got down and listened again. This time he said the hair-ball was all right. He said it would tell my whole fortune if I wanted it to” (Twain 17-18). Jim believes that this hairball can tell fortunes which is meant by Twain to appear ridiculous to the reader. Keith Neilson, a literary critic highlights this stating “Jim’s beliefs and practices do seem outlandish” (Neilson). While it may seem intelligent at first the depiction of religion throughout the book provides perspective for Jim’s beliefs. This is first seen as Widow Douglas is attempting to civilize Huck and tells him if he does not sit up straight or yawn and stretch he will go to hell (Twain 2). This is meant to ridicule Christianity along with other organized religions. A further example of this is when Twain uses two feuding families to further show the foolishness of religion. During Huck’s journey he stays with a family called the Grangerfords and bonds with a boy named Buck. Twain portrays, “The men took their guns along, so did Buck, and kept them between their knees or stood them handy against the wall” (Twain 112). Further he adds irony by making the sermon about brotherly love even as the two families plotted to leave the church and then begin killing each other (Twain 112). As Huck begins to develop a relationship with Jim he begins questioning his beliefs and superstitions. Once, he directly challenges them, “Now you think it’s bad luck; but what did you say when I fetched in the snake-skin that I found on the top of the ridge day before yesterday? You said it was the worst bad luck in the world to touch a snake-skin with my hands” (Twain 52). However soon Huck learns of the origin of this belief as his prank goes badly “He was barefooted,

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