preview

Huckleberry Finn and Slavery

Better Essays
“It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a nigger; but I done it, and I warn't ever sorry for it afterwards, neither. I didn't do him no more mean tricks, and I wouldn't done that one if I'd a knowed it would make him feel that way”(Twain 49). Despite the time period in which he lived, and the overwhelmingly racist atmosphere that he was placed in, this is an example of how young Huck Finn is able to see a black man with the human qualities that Huck’s upbringing was supposed to rip from all blacks. Huck’s mind, from the very beginning, is open to the possibility of Jim being just another human being, regardless of him being taught otherwise. Around the time period in which The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is loosely based (1830-1845, roughly), slavery was prominent throughout the U.S. and there was very little precedent for some of the ideas in Jim and Huck’s story.

Huck was raised by a family with extreme animosity towards blacks, and so at first his attitude towards all blacks is seemingly very narrow-minded, much like the majority of people during this time. In order to fully appreciate this book, one must have a comprehensive understanding of just precisely what this time period was like. During the period between 1830 and 1860, the free colored population was nearly doubled, and the slave population was halved. The free blacks fell into the following classes: Those whose families had never been slaves, but possibly indentured servants; those born to a free parent, those who had purchased their own freedom (usually with help from relations), and those who had successfully escaped. Strict regulations were added to the slave codes resulting in regulations such as that every free black ...

... middle of paper ...

... ERA ABOLITIONISM, NORTHERN ABOLITIONISM." - Slavery, Slave, Slaves, and American. Web. 15 Feb. 2012. .

Morrison, Toni. “In Defense of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Social Issues in Literature: Race in Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Ed. Claudia Durst Johnson and Elizabeth Des Chenes. Farmington Press, Greenhaven Press, 2009. 103-109.

Lester, Julius. “Morality and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Satire or Evasion? Black Perspectives on Huckleberry Finn. Ed. James S. Leonard, Thomas A. Tenney, and Thadious M. Davis. Durham, Duke University Press, 1992. 199-207.

Smith, David. “Huck, Jim, and American Racial Discourse.” Satire or Evasion? Black Perspectives on Huckleberry Finn. Ed. James S. Leonard, Thomas A. Tenney, and Thadious M. Davis. Durham, Duke University Press, 1993.
Get Access