Injun Joe enters the novel “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” accompanied by Muff Potter and Doctor Robinson as they attempt to dig up a grave for medical practice. Doctor Robinson orchestrated the crime, and had already paid Injun Joe and Muff Potter for their accompaniment. However, Injun Joe demanded more money as reparation for Doctor Robinson sending him away with no food five years earlier. When Doctor Robinson refuses, a fight ensues and Injun Joe murders him, telling a recently awaken and drunk Muff Potter that he had committed the murder. This immediately establishes Injun Joe as not only the lone Native American in the novel, but the main villain as well.
Historically, it makes sense that Mark Twain would make the villain in “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” a Native American man. At the time the novel was being written, congress was passing the 1871 “Indians Appropriations Act”, and while it was being published, battles like “The Battle of Little Bighorn” were taking place. These give insight to what was on America’s mind at the time this novel was being written. Twain’s mind and belief’s were not immune to the racial prejudices that were being practiced in the 1800’s; therefore, cont...
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...ries with essentially no plot driven logic. But, Jim is at least given a substance when he talks about his family and his goal, which gives readers a way to sympathize with him.
Injun Joe, on the other hand, is written based on racial stereotypes. But due to his murderous actions, readers cannot sympathize with him. Mark Twain wrote Injun Joe with no redeemable qualities, so his death rends no emotion. In the essay “Why Mark Twain Murdered Injun Joe”, Carter Revard says “We know what was done to Blacks, so we care about Jim; we don’t know what was done to Indians, so we care nothing for Joe”. Slavery was a an aspect of American history that everyone knows about, but Americas treatment of Native Americans is one that people tend to hide, and not talk about. This makes it obvious that Jim is being mistreated, but no so obvious that Injun Joe was written unfairly.
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