When a book uses the "N-word" 213 times (Carey-Webb 24) and portrays the African American characters as inferior to their white counterparts, it becomes easy to assume that the book’s author Mark Twain is using this novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, as a form of racist propaganda to display upon America in the late 19th century post-Civil War Era. By the late 19th century slavery had finally ended across the United States, but racial tension, discord and discrimination were still very much at large. For those opposed to slavery in its original iteration, and, therefore, opposed to its continuation in this form, the only thing left to do was to continue fighting the battle for equality and rights in any way they knew how. Some equal rights activists fought for equality by brandishing words as their mightiest weapon. Mark Twain was one such individual, fighting slavery with a weapon much more damaging than any other, the pen. With this weapon, he was able to utilize the stereotypes of racism and slavery to create more than just notice of the situation, but that of conversation and change. Through The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain intended to draw notice to the racism of the Old South in a way that seemed to draw ridicule and condescension, rather than continued support thereof.
Controversy in Critical Sources Surrounding the Racism of Huck Finn
Throughout this novel, there are elaborate scenes of racism, of rudeness and of downright insensitivity in regards to the lives of slaves which have continued to disturb the public since its release. Satire or Evasion? a collection of “diverse and divergent essays” (Carey-Webb 24) was
written by a prominent group of black scholars wherein they could “vo...
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... this term was clearly intended to make a statement about its use, in general, language and society. Utilizing the "N-word" over 200 times within the context of his novel, it can be clearly determined that Twain was attempting to prove a point and not merely to depict casual and common language. (Levy). Rather, the language is overused and the context is often strained merely to insert it within the conversation. This can clearly be viewed, being accomplished by an author well known for his excellent quality and picturesque language, as an intentional action, meant to draw attention not only to the term itself but to how it is in use. Twain carefully chose his words and once wrote, “The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter -- it is the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” (Fishkin, Pap Finn’s Rant)
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