Pap's Racism Exposed In Huck Finn

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The Southern United States remained virtually unchanged socially after the Civil War and Reconstruction. Former slaves were employed by previous owners with low-paying sharecropping, and freedmen could not vote. Jim Crow laws soon placed newly freed slaves back into a pseudo-slavery, keeping many in the south with mandatory Apprenticeship Laws. Mark Twain subtly comments on these issues in the American society, largely using satire as a way to display the failure of Reconstruction in the South. Society in Huck Finn displays racism towards Jim, with many characters’ actions and attitudes demonstrating overt racism. Twain’s portrayal of Americans--including common townspeople and Huck’s father--combine with Jim’s ironic false enslavement to shed…show more content…
American society hardly changed socially after the Civil War, with the majority of the U.S. population holding incredibly racist views on black Americans, not specifically limited to the South. Pap’s racism in Huck Finn is insight into the creation of racists across generations, from parent to child. Racism hardly changed after the Civil War, especially in southern states. This racism had begun generations earlier, taught from parent to child over the decades. Racism could not be completely eradicated in the States with ease due to a large older population raising children to hold prejudice views. Twain features this unfortunate cycle in Huck Finn: Pap rambles on about racist topics right in front of his son. Pap describes how he is disappointed in his country for allowing black people to vote, among other…show more content…
Jim is held behind the Phelps’ house in a shack, and is set to be freed by Tom and Huck. Huck wants to free Jim as soon as possible, while Tom believes that Huck’s plan is “Too blame’ simple” and “There ain’t nothing to it. What’s the good of a plan that ain’t no more trouble than that?” (235) The reader does not yet know that Jim is a free man due to his owner’s death, but Tom is well aware. Tom’s refusal to tell Huck the truth at this point is misleading to Huck and Jim, and the only person benefitting is Tom: thirsty for a fantastic escape story. On the surface, this part of the novel is only a display of a child--Tom--wanting to have some dumb fun with a person he doesn’t perceive as human. This section is much deeper than an average reader may realize, however. Tom represents an American participating in the establishment of pseudo-slavery. With the banning of slavery in the United States, many Americans aided the passing of laws placing freedmen in a slavery-like place in society. These laws allowed businesses to dock the pay of black workers under 18 years of age, and kept black workers in contracts, forcing them to work at that job they could not legally leave. Americans were not holding freedmen down with a force as tight as slavery, but attempting to strengthen their grip on the black population once more. Tom is keeping Jim enslaved by not telling him of his dead owner,
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