Racism In Jane Smiley's The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn

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Despite the connotations that Adventures of Huckleberry Finn may have lost focus in its message of anti-racism, the novel still displays a thoughtful and engaging take on the status of racism through setting and character development. Though authors like Jane Smiley believe the book is overpraised because the characters are shallow and ignored, Twain’s subtle commentary on racism through the use of his characters helps to create a realistic understanding of the social conditions at the time.
One of Smiley’s main arguments against Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is that the novel overshadows Uncle Tom’s Cabin which she considers has more in-depth characters than the former book. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which for its portrayal of an array of thoughtful, autonomous, and passionate black characters leaves Huck Finn far behind.” From the excerpt we can see that Smiley
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“The signs of this failure are everywhere, as Jim is pushed to the side of the narrative, hiding on the raft and confined to it.” One of her main faults of Huck Finn was that Jim was put aside instead of being the main focus of the story. Unlike Uncle Tom’s Cabin however, Huck Finn was meant to be a light hearted book with an additional social commentary on the side. “The novel combines melodramatic boyhood adventure, farcical low comedy, and pointed social satire” While Twain based his novel on his boyhood adventures in Hannibal, Stowe wrote on the harsh treatment of slaves during the pre-civil war era. Unlike Stowe who was an abolitionist, Twain was a comedian of some sort as evidence by Jim’s escape which consisted of over convoluted plans and a general sense of absurdity. Though it may be viewed by some as using Jim as a plot point than rather a character, the irony that Jim could have gotten out at any time plays on Twain's sarcastic demeanor when writing the
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