The Role Of Racism In Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn

Improved Essays
Mark Twain 's Huckleberry Finn is one of the most highly criticised novels in American history. This book is about a young boy, Huck Finn, who goes on many adventures, encountering a wide variety of people, including an escaped slave named Jim. He would travel the Mississippi River with Jim and would eventually work to free him from the captivity of the family of his best friend, Tom Sawyer. The book 's use of the “N” word is often mistaken by readers as Mark Twain writing the book with the intent of it being racist. Mark Twain is one of the greatest writers ever when it comes to using satire to get his point across. His “racist” point of view in Huckleberry Finn are just another great example of that. This book is written in a regionalist …show more content…
The obvious way this book is considered racist is its blatant use of the word “nigger”. Read out of context in today’s society, yes, this word is racist, and even in the way it is used in the book, it 's racist, but this book is not based in modern-times. Huckleberry Finn was written when cruel and unjust treatment of blacks was common and the use of that word didn’t even get a second thought. The “N” word was used in that era like the word “bro” is today. It wasn’t even used with the intent of being a derogatory term. It was more of a nickname for slaves. This is all representative of how Twain wrote in a regionalist tone. He did not use these words with the intent of being racist himself, but with the intent of showing just how racist society was in the pre-civil war era. Some of the actions in Huck Finn could be misconstrued as racist as well. One example would be when Huck talks to Aunt Sally about a steamboat explosion. Twain drives home a point about the white south’s view of blacks. After Aunt Sally asks Huck if anybody was hurt, this was Huck’s reply, "No 'm. Killed a nigger." To which Aunt Sally replied, "Well, it 's lucky; …show more content…
In the story, Huck deals with an internal conflict about racism for nearly the whole novel. One example is after he plays the trick on Jim, when he debates with himself whether he should or should not apologize to him. “It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a nigger; but I done it, and I warn 't ever sorry for it afterwards, neither. I didn 't do him no more mean tricks, and I wouldn 't done that one if I 'd a knowed it would make him feel that way.” Huck shows in this excerpt that even though he has the racist background, he has remorse. His racist background shows through in that he is reluctant to apologize, but he would not have played the trick on Jim if he knew it would upset him. Most people in this time period would not think twice about making a black upset. They may even go out of their way to make them feel bad about themselves and they would feel no remorse whatsoever, but Huck did. At the end of the story when Jim is held captive by the Phelps’, Huck writes a letter to Miss Watson that tells where Jim is and signs it with his name. After he finishes writing the letter, he’s relieved and is happy that he has saved himself from going to hell for helping a slave, but instead of just being happy with his decision, Huck thinks about their trip down the river. He remembers how the two of them had such a good time

Related Documents

  • Superior Essays

    Known primarily for his novels of boyhood around the mississippi river, he has impacted lives of readers for over 200 years and will continue to be an American favorite for years to come. He is very well known and makes other writers not look as well. Twain have a very distinguish style of writing, and best known for his use of his irreverent, biting social satire, and realism of place and languages. Twain use jokes and get his point across very well during his lectures. His search for the truth in every situation, is satire and his humor are foundations of his writing.…

    • 2277 Words
    • 10 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The author uses this to ridicule the stereotype that is that all young black men are shady. This connects to Twain’s satire by using juvenalian satire to belittle the issue that is racial superiority. Further on in this list of “advice”, “avoid wearing clothing associated with the gang lifestyle such as shirts and pants” is also very similar and different to Twain’s satire. This quote uses juxtaposition indirectly like Twain would use to cause change. This satire however is more Horatian than juvenalian in which Twain used more…

    • 1146 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    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.…

    • 1944 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Great Essays

    but when they told me there was a State in this country where they’d let that nigger vote, I drawed out (Twain 29).” He doesn’t stop there where than later says “And to see the cool way of that nigger—why, he wouldn’t a give me the road if I hadn’t shoved him out o’ the way(Twain 29).” Through these quotes, we see that Pap is quite a racist person, showing that he practically has no respect towards another black person.This rant he made about black people underline an irony where a repulsive,illiterate, alcoholic child-abuser is incensed by a well-educated,well dressed free black man that could vote in another but couldn’t be sold into slavery unless he’s been in missouri for six months(Fishkin). It also shows that Pap lacks self-awareness of what he is saying most likely of how drunk he is because of the radical ideas he portrays in his monologue to Huck.Pap is known by everyone as an uncompromising and cruel racist and even forsakened Huck because his predilection for black women(Chan).This shows that Pap has virtually no tolerance for someone who even likes black people which tells us how radical Pap is. Twain created Pap in order to represent the rigged and close minded whites and how they felt about free…

    • 1737 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Great Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The main argument behind this is that the book is racist and harmful to african-american readers. Some even go as far to say: “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, is the most grotesque example of racist trash ever written” (Wallace 112). The book may uses offensive language such as, the n-word, or injins, or other crude names, but that by no means is meant to harm non-white readers. In fact the use of such words are necessary to the story. When a poll was taken on if the n-word should be replaced eighty percent of white readers said it should not, seventy one hispanic said it should not, and sixty three of african american reader said it should not (May Graph).…

    • 1286 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    People seem to forget that this book was written in a time in America when the use of the N-word was the common word for when talking to or about slaves. Twain was never intending to cause harm to people he was just trying to write a great novel that was time accurate. Also, the way Twain had Jim speak was seen as offensive to people. People found this offensive because it was making the slave look like he was dumb and below the 12 year old boy. This is shocking because slaves in…

    • 699 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Backlash In Huck Finn

    • 826 Words
    • 4 Pages

    He was merely trying to show people how slaves were treated. Twain was also against racism. The book uses…

    • 826 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Mark Twain’s most famous novel “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” has some reader concerned about the strong, racist language and think it is inappropriate for only children. Twain’s classic American novel made many people question its rough use of the word “nigger.” Twain was accused of being racist, and his novel was challenged by schools and libraries. “Twain’s purpose of his novel is exposed the problem of slavery and demonstrate how racism affects the people who support slavery as much as those who are enslaved.” It took him nearly seven years to complete this powerful inspirational message that will inspire people across the nation. Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin” should not be removed for libraries and schools because…

    • 770 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Uncle Tom's Cabin Banned

    • 1242 Words
    • 5 Pages

    Many northerners, as demonstrated by Miss Ophelia, believe that whites should not interact with blacks, but Stowe shows this belief is wrong and hypocritical. Stowe did not write the book with the intent of starting a war, but her book did set in motion events that led up to one. Prejudge and racism did not go away after the war, however, and today racism continues to cause problems in American society, just as it did when the book was written. The main reason Uncle Tom's Cabin is banned today is because of language. The "n" word is used by slaveowners and slaves alike.…

    • 1242 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Being an abolitionist and saving innocent lives is considered a reprehensible act in the society. In reality Huck has done nothing immoral but living in the society has completely changed his conscience. Consequently making him battle whether he should tell Miss Watson about Jim’s whereabouts and says “It would get all around that Huck Finn helped a nigger to get his freedom; and if I was ever to see anybody from that town again I’d be ready to get down and lick his boots for shame” (Twain, 212). By helping Jim, Huck is conscious about his image in the society and would do anything to redeem his reputation if it gets spoilt, even if he has to lick boots. Basically, helping a human being escape to his freedom is considered shameful and immoral in the white society.…

    • 894 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays