Huckleberry Finn 6 Essay, Research Paper
Racism and Mark Twain s Huckleberry Finn
Since the very first printing of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the book has always been a very controversial one, to say the least. Many people misunderstand Mark Twain s intentions when he wrote this book. He just wanted to tell a story, not preach hate. He does a very good job of demonstrating the culture of the late eighteen hundreds. In no way is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn aimed at belittling the African American Race, it merely illustrates how the poorly the slave owners and traders treated blacks.
Throughout the book, the word nigger is very prominently used. As you can imagine, African American people take offense to that word, even most people take offense to that word. Just because we might take offense to that word doesn t mean that we should just turn our heads and pretend that the word does not exist. Mark Twain did a very good job when writing this book, in terms of the dialect he used. During the period of time when this book was written, the n-word was part of their culture, where as the words African American and black are used today in our culture. If Mark Twain avoided the many racial slurs used during the late eighteen hundreds, the book would have lost some of the intellectual value which it possesses, not to mention the historical value of the era. Besides, if Mark Twain used alternate words, he would be writing from a romantic point of view, instead of a realist point of view. Throughout the whole book, Mark Twain never makes a derogatory comment or statement towards anyone, especially blacks. The only time he does use the n-word is in a character’s dialogue. And to see the cool way of that nigger-why, he wouldn t a give me the road if I hadn t shoved him out o the way. That is the way that people talked back then, the cultural mindset of their environment basically mandated the use of that word and other offensive racial slurs directed towards blacks. Not including these words and phrases would hinder the true feeling of the time period in which the book takes place.
Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it . (Author Unknown) The words in that statement are very true. If you can not remember your mistakes, you will probably make the same mistake again. What will happen if we totally forget about slavery, and all the ugly details that go along with it? Is it possible for it to happen again? We need to be aware of what has happened in our past in order to keep ourselves on the right track for the future. Even though slavery may be a sensitive issue, we need to confront it and never forget about it. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an excellent source of information dealing with that period of time. This book helps us remember what has happened in our past, and never to forget what sickening things have happened during the slavery era.
Well, anyways, I doan hanker for no mo un um, Huck . (150) Some people think it is racist to portray Jim like this. It is not racist, but the truth. During that period of time, the majority of African Americans talked in that manner due to the fact that it was illegal to educate a slave. The typical stereotype of a slave was a dark black man with exaggerated facial features running around saying lordy lordy. That is a stereotype, and stereotypes are false. Mark Twain did not play off of stereotypes; he remained accurate throughout the entire novel. He did not belittle Jim because he was not educated; he just told a story. In the book, if Jim spoke with an educated tongue, Mark Twain would not have been to accurate.
Blacks who were free as well as slaves were treated very poorly. Besides constantly being called nigger, slaves were nothing to the white people than just a piece of property to be bought and sold. Yes; en I s rich now, come to look at it. I owns mysef, en I s wuth eight hund d dollars. I wisht I had de money, I wouldn want no mo . Jim is basically stating that he is worth eight hundred dollars, and that he would turn himself in for the reward money. Eight Hundred dollars was a lot of money back then, to make a comparison, that much money could probably buy a decent new car. Slaves were also encouraged to have children, therefore increasing the number of slaves that a plantation owner would own. With more slaves, a plantation owner could have more labor done. Basically slaves were just treated as objects, not people.
Slaves were often times beaten into submission by their owners. Many times a slave would be beaten for not doing their work properly, trying to escape, or not producing children. Imagine if you were a slave, you would probably not want to bring my child into that type of environment. Just try to imagine being beaten to within an inch of your life only to be beaten the same way the next week. You give the slaves a lot of credit; they endured many trying situations and hardships. Have you ever heard of a slave committing suicide? You would think that if someone were put in that situation where they had to work the rest of their life with no pay, receive regular beatings, and have their family members bought and sold, that at least some of them would kill themselves. No they didn t, they endured all the hard ships, hoping someday to be let free.
In conclusion, slaves were treated very poorly at best. From receiving beatings, to the constant belittling, the slaves endured a lot of hardships. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn did an excellent job of illustration those hardships. In no way was the book racist or discriminatory towards blacks or anyone. The book uses accurate dialogue and a realist point of view to show how blacks were treated in that time period. If anything, there should be more books like this one.