Many people can agree that The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn covers some heavy topics, and it’s very upfront about it. One of these controversial subjects is equality and racism. Mark Twain writes using realism, so he portrays characters and personality the way they would really be back in the 1830s-40s. Reading this book in 2017, we can start to hypothesize what mindset Twain had. Was he racist or not?
My personal opinion is that Twain was not racist; he just called it like he saw it. Because this book is supposed to paint picture of the life Jim and Huck had, Twain had to include strong language. His diction is very deliberate in that he doesn’t throw in profanities or derogatory terms if they don’t help to paint the picture of life of a runaway slave. I also believe that the fact that Mark Twain even wrote a novel that sheds light on Jim’s hardships vouch for him not being racist.
Human nature makes us ignore what we don’t believe. I truly think that if Mark Twain was racist, he wouldn’t have written something that makes his audience sympathize with Jim. He also finds ways to humanize Jim in a way that someone who saw African Americans as property couldn’t do. Twain brings up the fact that Jim has a family, which makes you feel bad that they were separated, “He was thinking about his wife and his children, away up yonder, and he was low and homesick; because he hadn’t ever been away from home before in his life; and I do believe he cared just as much for his people as white folks does for their’n (pg 158).” If Twain was actually racist, why would he care to add a background story or give Jim any humanizing qualities?
I don’t feel that Mark Twain was racist because he used some derogatory language. I think he actually helped shed light on the problem our country faced and still faces by making it so apparent.Tags: Huck Finn mark twain Racism