The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is most definitely a book with quite the reputation. From the first day it was released, it was considered a banned book because of the fact that it used nasty language at the time,  because of words like “sweat” instead of perspire. However, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is now considered a banned book because of it’s use of derogatory language.  There are some times in reading this book that makes a person sit back and just think, “Wow.”, but that is the point. This book is a book of realism, and it is intended to make you think outside of what you know and immerse yourself into a culture from the past. That is why the use of the N word is so important.

Personally, I don’t believe that Mark Twain is a racist, because he was writing from a realist standpoint. Back when Twain was a writer, this is how people truly talked. Society was racist, and that is shown countless times in the book. However, you can’t say that the author is racist just because of what he is writing. The novel itself is intended for the purpose to shock the reader, and make them think.

When writing using the direct sayings of the times, it also takes a direct sense of maturity. As Webb Harris Jr. writes, “Every time I taught the novel, Huck’s raft got awfully crowded. We were all of us along for the ride, through thick and thin, for better or for worse. And somewhere along that mighty river, we each, like Huck, did a lot of growing up.” (More can be found from this great writing at this article.) I thought that that quote was a very real quote, because every time I would reread a section looking for something specific, I would always find something I had missed the first time, and it made you realize how much more serious it all was than I originally considered.

A quote that I believe really brings together both of my paragraphs is, “It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a n—; 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.” (78)  15 chapters before, Huck never would have admitted anything like that. Although he did consider Jim a friend, he never saw him as human, so the racist tendencies over took his friendship for most of the book. Personally, I think that Twain was brilliant in writing this novel this way, because not only is it written in a realist way that helps you immerse yourself into the time period, but a constant yet subtle growth of maturity with Huck is seen consistently throughout.

100 years from now, researchers will probably find the lyrics to some of the songs on the radio and call this an extremely racist time period; much the same as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is looked at right now. Just like most songs on the radio aren’t using the derogatory slang in a manner that portrays how they feel, is the same that I feel that Twain is using it. Twain is using the n word and others for impact and to immerse the reader into the time period.

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CC BY-SA 4.0 Is Mark Twain Racist? by Shannon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

1 Comment
  1. Sarah 5 months ago

    Hi Shannon! I agree with you about Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain not being racist. I think the book was more of a statement against racism even though that’s something that many people debate about. Something I’d like to commend you on is your use of comparing Huck Finn to now. The connection was really interesting, I believe.
    A question that I have for you is why might you think others would find this book racist? This book has such a vast conflicting audience, whether people believe Huck Finn is racist or that it’s not so I believe that it is important to think about how someone who might oppose your view would view the book.
    I think that you did a really good job explaining your point of view on this book and I think the quote you used fit in and worked really well for you.

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