Racism in Huckleberry Finn

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is considered one of the greatest novels in American literature. It is taught in English classes around the world in junior high, high school, and college. According to author Ernest Hemingway, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was the one book from which all modern American literature came. Apart from these positive critiques, the book has sparked much controversy. Many people believe that The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn should not be required to read and discuss in school. Others believe that the novel is offensive, racist, and degrading towards blacks. Although Huck Finn can be interpreted in many different ways, I do not think that the book is racist.

When Mark Twain was writing The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, I believe he had the best of intentions. Since he had written the book around the Civil War era, he was determined to show the issues of slavery and the tension between the South and the North. In this time period, segregation was present almost everywhere. Blacks were viewed unequal or even inferior to whites. They worked as slaves in the South, while discriminated against and called derogatory names. Twain’s novel may come across as rude or stereotypical, but I think he was trying to be as honest and realistic as possible.

One of the main reasons why Huck Finn is viewed as racist is because of its use of the ‘N’ word. Huck consistently refers to Jim as the ‘N’ word throughout the book, and it seems he belittles him with pranks and little comments. However, it is important we know that Huck grew up with adults who had superior attitudes toward Jim because of his skin color. Twain wants us to realize that Finn changes over time. Finn eventually helps Jim out of slavery when he knows in his mind that it is the wrong thing to do. A key theme in the story is the relationship built between Huck and Jim. I believe their friendship is the most important part of the novel. I do not think that The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn would be a worldwide best seller if it were racist.


Works Cited
1.
http://classiclit.about.com/od/adventuresofhuckleberry/fr/aa_huckfinn.htm
2.
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2956.The_Adventures_of_Huckleberry_Finn
3.
http://classiclit.about.com/od/adventuresofhuckleberry/a/huckfinn_writer.htm

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