The Consequences Of Racism In Bernard Twain's Huckleberry Finn

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Perhaps the most controversial part of Huckleberry Finn is the ending, fondly dubbed by some as the Phelps Farm Fiasco. Directly preceding this is a scene where Huck struggles with himself, deciding whether to be “good” and turn Jim in or “go to hell” and free his friend. Dramatically, he chooses the latter -- casting aside his attempt to conform -- and heads to the Phelps farm in order to rescue Jim. However, once Tom appears, Huck and Jim both seem willing to play along with his ineffective, elaborate rescue scheme. Furthermore, Tom later reveals that Jim was free the whole time! Is this ending ironic or is it just bad writing? Bernard DeVoto spared no opinions when he said that “In the whole reach of the English novel there is no more abrupt or chilling descent” (DeVoto). DeVoto was correct -- and this is what makes the ending so…show more content…
Specifically, Jim could have been given a sad ending that was realistic and still took a stand against racism. First, it is important to note that it is just as useful to analyze how racism and slavery came to be as it is to condemn them. Judging from a modern perspective, most of the world already condemns slavery and there are many forces working towards universally condemning racism. Of course, narratives that remind us why we condemn racism are important, but so are those that view the dynamic of racism in society, like Huckleberry Finn. In this sense, Huckleberry Finn deserves its place in the literary canon. It provides a different perspective on racism -- Twain could have told the audience to take action, but he chose to study and comment on societal racism instead. The book benefits readers today because it allows them to better understand that blind adherence to society is what allowed slavery to be such a huge institution around Huck’s time, despite the moral objections people have to it
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