Racism of Yesterday and Today

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was written by Mark Twain in the middle of the nineteenth century. Much of the inspiration for the book came from Mark Twain’s own encounters. Twain’s experiences as a steamboat pilot from 1835 to 1845 provided a great deal of the historical context for his work. The novel revolves around a southern boy, Huck, and a slave named Jim who both reject society by running away in hopes of finding freedom. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn highlights and portrays the cruelty of racism that surrounded the south in Pre-Civil War America; the racism depicted in the book still to this day receives uproar of controversy and criticism.

Mark Twain’s ideas for his books like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and many others, came from his own experiences. Mark Twain was originally born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in 1835 in Florida, Missouri. At the age of four, he moved to a small town called Hannibal, located on the Mississippi River, which was a major focal point in The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn. In 1847 Samuel’s father suddenly died which sent the whole family into money crisis. The passing of Samuel’s father could symbolize why Huckleberry Finn’s father is absent from his life, as well. The Mississippi River flourished with steamboats which sparked Twain’s interest in them. Huckleberry Finn, much like Mark Twain, also had an attraction to steamboats throughout the book. The violence and killings in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn coincide with the violence that Twain observed as a child. Growing up, Twain witnessed a murder along with a slave’s death after his owner struck him with a piece of iron. As Bob Frost explains in the “Mark Twain” biography, Twain’s childhoo...

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Works Cited

Bates, Christopher. "slavery and its aftermath, 1800–1877." In Waugh, John, and Gary B. Nash, eds. Encyclopedia of American History: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1856 to 1869, Revised Edition (Volume V). New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2010. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc.

Chadwick- Joshua, Jocelyn. “Introduction.” The Jim Dilemma: Reading Race in Huckleberry Finn. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1998. Print.

Frost, Bob. “Mark Twain.” Biography 6.10 (2002): 60. Biography Collection Complete. Web. 8 Feb. 2012.

Plante, Andrew. "Huck Finn." Teen Ink 22.9 (2011): 25. MAS Ultra - School Edition. Web. 26 Feb. 2012.

Schulten, Katherine. “Huck Finn: Born to Trouble” www.pbs.org. Culture Shock, Web. 15 Jan. 2012.

Twain, Mark. Four Great American Classics. Bantam Classic. New York: Bantam Books, 1986. 1-281. Print.
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