Essay about Abolitionist Mark Twain

Essay about Abolitionist Mark Twain

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, is considered a classic novel from the realism period of American Literature that accurately depicts social conventions from pre-civil war times. Despite this reputation as a historical lens of life on the Mississippi River, elements of blatant racism overshadow the regionalist and realist depictions. Huck Finn does not promote racism because all derogatory or racist remarks are presented as a window to life during the 1850s, in a satirical context, or to show Mark Twain's moral views on racism.
Huckleberry Finn accurately presents the mistreatment, abuse, and hatred that African Americans faced in pre-civil war times. Huck Finn portrays racism as a part of life and as a social normality accepted by most people. The African Americans are treated as lower class people that are not worthy of sentient thought. Twain (2003) pens,
Tom said he slipped Jim's hat off of his head and hung it on a limb right over him, and Jim stirred a little, but he didn't wake. Afterwards Jim said the witches bewitched him and put him in a trance, and rode him all over the State, and then set him under the trees again and hung his hat on a limb to show who done it (p. 15).
African Americans faced the exact same treatment described in Huck Finn in real life. During the 1850s, slavery and social customs severely limited personal freedoms. African Americans were not permitted to own land or property, nor were they able to legally marry and form families (Goodell, 2003). African Americans fought mistreatment from white persons on an everyday basis. Owners expected slaves to be loyal working animals. Care constituted just enough to keep the slaves alive. Twain provides a perfect examp...


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...ct that they have got to sing with them in heaven or scorch with them in hell some day in the most familiar and sociable way and on a footing of most perfect equality (p. 4).
He also is quoted on African Americans with a side thought: "We have ground the manhood out of them & the shame is ours, not theirs, & we should pay for it" (Twain, 1997, p. 4).
Huck Finn does not promote racism. All racist comments are merely historically realistic or are to be taken with a satirical manner. Twain uses the novel to morally fight racism. More volumes of Twain's Autobiography will be published in coming years according to his will (Auto). His true feelings may then be fully understood. Until then Huck Finn will be the subject of debate. However, no amount of debate could upset the novel's position as one of the most definite works in American history (Fishkin, 1993).

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