Xochitl Weiss

Spoiler Alert

Many critics of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn have debated whether or not Mark Twain himself was a racist. Given the evidence present in the book, I think that it is clear that Twain believed in equality. I also think that Twain just used historical accuracy from the time period and did not agree with some of the characters thoughts and actions. Characters used offensive language that some may argue points towards racist views, but as seen in the slave narratives, the offensive language was common during the time period and Twain used it to make an impact on readers. Throughout the novel, Mark Twain discusses the immorality of racism. He uses the characters to call the reader’s attention to the time period where slavery existed and how negatively the inequality affected African Americans. The clearest way that the author uses his writing to make a change in society is with the main character’s a moral growth while he helps his friend, Jim, escape slavery. As Huck grew up he has had the idea that African American people are property and are below him drilled into his mind over and over again. His father is clearly a racist as shown by his complaints about a free African American who he says is a knowledgeable professor at a college with the right to vote (24). Huck was around his father for part of his childhood and spent the rest with a woman who owned slaves. Racism and slavery are all he ever has known. But, as Huck sets out on the Mississippi river, away from all of the racist influences on his life, he journeys with a runaway slave. Huck begins to question everything he has ever known and grows to see Jim as more of a human and less like property. By the end of the story Jim has been sold into slavery and Huck shows how far he has come as a person. When Huck says he has “got to decide, forever, betwixt my two things” meaning he has to decide between stealing Jim out of slavery and doing what he believes it right, he decides to  “go to hell” and save his friend (191). By showing characters overcoming their racist tendencies and proving how racism has negatively affected society, Twain proves through his writing that he is not a racist.

CC BY-SA 4.0 Racism in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Xochitl is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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