The Racial Debate of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Racial Debate of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, throughout the years, has provoked many debates pertaining to racism. A variety of individuals believe that Mark Twain expressed apparently racist ideas. The reason being, this novel shows the relationships between blacks and whites in the nineteenth century and all the ugliness that accompanied these associations. However, this novel is not a racist novel; it shows these situations not to promote racism, but to bring a better understanding of the subject and how one can overcome individual prejudices and grow from these experiences. This novel shows Huck Finn, a product of this insufferable society, coming to the realization of how uncivilized and ignorant his white peers have become. By showing these situations and the transformations Huck goes through, the reader sees racism and its effects in real life settings. It is imperative for the reader to recognize the ideas and repulsiveness of the South at that time in history; and Twain with his writing of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn attempts to challenge these ideas throughout the novel. Twain shows the irony and hypocrisy of treating people as property through Huck's eyes, and uses Huck to educate us in the immorality of this practice.

For many of Twain's critics, this novel is racism with a face on it and for the most obvious reason; the word "nigger" is used throughout. But seeing the novel takes place in the Deep South about twenty years before the Civil War, it would be highly unusual if they didn't use this word. James M. Cox wrote,

The language is neither imprisoned in a frame nor distorted into a caricature; rather, it becom...

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