Racism In The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn Analysis

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Mark Twain’s Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn is a highly controversial novel written in the late 19th century. Set in American south prior to the Civil War, the novel follows a boy named Huck Finn who travels the deep south on a raft along with a runaway slave named Jim. While some believe that the novel does deserves its esteemed position in American literature, others dismiss the novel as overrated, based on the offensive language and possibly racist undertones. While the novel’s ending diminishes the central message about slavery, The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn does deserve its eminent position in American literature for its effective criticism of Southern society and its racist beliefs.
Throughout the novel, Twain highlights stereotypes
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As Tom takes control of the narrative, both Jim and Huck are stepsided. Huck’s moral growth throughout the novel completely stops. Huck does not protest against Tom’s ridiculous adventures, and Jim remains passive as well, acting as more of a sidekick than a major character. Parts of the adventures are simply irrelevant and unimportant, detracting from the novel’s central themes about race and societal norms as these “episodes are mere distractions from the true subject of the work: Huck’s affection for and responsibility to Jim” (Smiley). Compared to Huck’s groundbreaking soliloquy earlier in the novel, the ending does not delve into those themes, though Tom’s selfishness do again highlight the racism in southern society and how even children can be influenced by its inherent…show more content…
While Jim’s role in the ending is considerable smaller, giving him the identity of more of a sidekick rather than a key character, and some parts were unnecessary for the central themes of race in society, the novel still sends a powerful message about race. Mark Twain’s message is subtle; he dismisses racism and slavery not always through direct statements, but by highlighting Southern attitude and marking the irrationality and irony of those very beliefs. The use of the n-word may make readers uncomfortable, but the language reflects the societal norms at the time, and the portrayal of Jim contradicts every stereotype of “the Negro,” making readers at that time period question their own beliefs. As the reader learns more about Jim and his courageous actions, while simultaneously reading about the cruelty towards African Americans in society, the reader will inevitably come to reject the racism and discrimination prevalent in 19th century American society. That is what makes this novel so effective, and just for that, it deserves its eminent position in American literature. Overall, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a profoundly anti-racist novel that contrasts Jim’s clear humanity with the cruel actions of southern townsfolk in order to question racist beliefs. Furthermore, Twain’s ability to use storytelling to convey these themes make them even more powerful, allowing the reader to analyze and understand
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