There is a major argument among literary critics whether Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is or is not a racist novel. The question boils down to the depiction of Jim, the black slave, and to the way he is treated by Huck and others. In the 1950s the effort to banish The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from required classroom reading lists came publicly to the floor again, not chiefly on the grounds that its depiction of black characters and the use of the word “nigger” were demeaning to African-American students. Many feel that Twain uses the word too loosely. However, many believe that Huck Finn should be taught in schools on the grounds that the novel’s racist theme accurately depicted what life was like for a slave in pre- Civil War times.
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Note that what the author felt is not the way most characters act around Jim, and his feelings are probably only shown through Huck. In the South during that period, black people were treated as less than humans, and Twain needed to portray this. The examples of the way Jim is denigrated: by being locked up, having to hide his face in the daytime and how he is generally derided, all examples which are necessary for historical accuracy. So, Mark Twain had to display Jim’s treatment in this manner, even if it was not the way he felt.
Huck, however, does not treat Jim as most whites do. Huck looks at Jim as a friend, and by the end of their journey, disagrees with society's notion that blacks are inferior. There are two main examples of this in the story. The first one is where Huck is disgusted by Jim's plans to steal his own children, who are "someone else's property." While Huck is still racist here, Twain has written the scene in a way that ridicules the notion that someone's children can actually be the property of a stranger because the father is black. The second example is where Huck doesn't tell Jim's whereabouts, which would return Jim to slavery, and instead chooses to "go to Hell" for his decision. This is again Twain making a mockery of Southern values, that it is a sin to be kind to black people. Mark Twain also never presents Jim in a negative light. He does not show Jim as a drunkard, as a mean person or as a cheat. This is