Critique of Racism in Mark Twain's Novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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Revealing conscience that hooks readers throughout the story, Huckleberry Finn regretfully remarks, “Human beings can be awful cruel to one another, ” as he witnesses the tar and feathering of the conmen which made his journey so much harder. The story’s focus on a runaway boy and a fugitive slave’s travels on the Mississippi River delivers the crucial meaning of freedom. Mark Twain’s novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, should be celebrated as a powerful attack on racism as it condemns the institutionalized prejudice of the old South.

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Mark Twain tasks his character with delivering his attack on racism. Mark Twain's characterization of Pap Finn makes it clear he is against racism and slavery. Twain characterizes Pat Finn to be hated as he is depicted as a violent alcoholic who constantly diminishes Huck’s potential and abuses him mentally and physically. Pap Finn’s ugly character is shown through his sloppy attitude and ignorant prejudice. Enraged by the government's decision to allow a free black man to vote, Pap Finn seethed, “. . . But when they told me there was a state in this country where they’d let that nigger vote, I drawed out. I says I'll never vote again as long as I live” (Twain 00). Twain is attacking society’s racism by speaking of it through a ridiculous drunk, thus demonstrating how absurd the behavior is. As the story continues, readers realize that Twain tasks Huckleberry Finn as another attack on racism. At the start of the novel, Huck Finn is your stereotypical young boy pre-civil War. He has had a racism instilled in him from the start by a relentless and prejudiced society.

As the story continues readers witness as Huck and his companion, Jim, start to communicate and understand each other. Their developing friendship helps to improve Huck’s moral character and learn a true sense of right and wrong. By the end of the novel Huckleberry Finn has truly connected with Jim and ultimately decides to stand by his friend. At the story's conclusion, Huck concludes, “ but I reckon I got to light out for the territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally, she's going to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I been there before” (Twain 00). Twain combats racism by having Huck ultimately rejects society and the hate it is infected with. Additionally, Twain leads a charge against racism by showing equality and excellence through the character Jim. As he embarks on a journey against the law, Jim changes and reveals positive aspects of his character. Jim shows how much he cares for Huck and allows readers to grasp that he is a deeply emotional human being.

After the flooding of the river, Jim and Huck discover a dead body floating along in a house, creeping inside, Jim warns, “It’s a dead man, Yes, indeedy; naked too. He’s ben shot in de back. I reck’n he’s ben dead two er three days. Come, in, Huck, but doan’ look at his face—it’s too gashly” (Twain 00). Protecting his young friend, Jim acts as almost a father figure and doesn’t want to hurt Huck by letting him discover his own father’s corpse. The author stands against racism with Jim’s character because Twain portrays African Americans as deeply real and passionate. Twain is demonstrating emotional capability and sympathy. He is not racist himself because he is showing that there is no difference between races. On the other hand, individuals may believe that The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn should be denounced as a racist work because it uses offensive language; however, Mark Twain was embodying the truth of the times. During the 1830-40s, people would use offensive terms to address African Americans free or not and it was considered normal. While Mark Twain uses this language, he is staying accurate.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn should be celebrated as a powerful attack on racism as Twain criticizes the deep-rooted hate clouding the pre-civil war south. Using characters Huckleberry Finn, Jim, and Pap Finn, Twain provides an intellectual strike against the wrond-doings of racism.

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Critique of Racism in Mark Twain’s Novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. (2020, December 01). WritingBros. Retrieved June 18, 2024, from
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