Adventures Of Huck Finn Ever since it was written, Mark Twains Huckleberry Finn has been a novel that many people have found disturbing. Although some argue that the novel is extremely racist, careful reading will prove just the opposite. In recent years especially, there has been an increasing debate over what some will call the racist ideas in the novel. In some cases the novel has even been banned by public school systems and censored by public libraries. The basis for the debate is how Jim, a black slave and one of the main characters, is depicted.However, if one was to look at the underlying themes in the novel, they would realize that it is not racist and could even be considered an anti slavery novel. The most popular problem people have with this book is the use of the word”nigger”. It must be remebered that during this time period it was not considered much of an insullt.
You can also notice in the book it was not meant offensively by Huck, or taken offensively by Jim. This is what Stephan Shepard had to say about the banning of the book and the use of the word “nigger”: In addition to removing Mark Twain’s novel from the required reading list, the district decided to use a censored version of the novel on its optional list.Admittedly, the censorship is minor the infamous “n-word” is deleted throughout the novel however, it is not only a dishonest alteration of Twain’s craft, it is also an unfair attempt to enforce the tastes of a few upon all students in the district. (Shepard 1) Also a column in The New York Times pointed out, “Huckleberry Finn is in constant trouble with teachers, librarians and parents because of its iterations of “nigger”, a word that has a preemptive force today that it did not have in Huck Finn’s Mississippi Valley of the 1840s” (Ritter 2). Another aspect of the novel that some consider racist is the description of Jim. The first time the reader meets Jim, a very negative description is given.
It is said that Jim is illiterate, childlike, not very bright and extremely superstitious.However, it is important not to lose sight of who is giving this description. Although Huck is not exactly a racist child, he has been raised by extremely racist individuals and has had certain ideas about blacks put in his head. Also, sad as it is, this description was probably pretty accurate for the time period. Millions of slaves in the South were not permitted any formal education, were not allowed any independent thought and were constantly abused. Twain is portraying a very realistic slave raised in the South during this time period, and to say that he is racist because of his historical accuracy is ridiculous.Casting judgment upon him and calling him racist is not only unfair, but also pointless.
The values of Twains time were different than the values of today. The very existence of slavery proves this. Twain has no obligation to live up to todays morals or ethical values, and cannot be expected to because they did not exist when he was alive.
Therefore, the present-day objections to Huckleberry Finn are ridiculous. It is stupidity to go back and apply standards that are predominate today, to novels written more than a hundred years ago (Baldanza 2). Also, it is important to remember in Chapter 15, the reader is told of an incident which contradicts the original childlike description of Jim.In fact, the reader is presented with a very caring and father like individual who becomes very worried when he loses Huck in the fog (Twain 134). This is in order to point out the connection made between Huck and Jim. A connection that is made between two people, not a person and a piece of property. There are many points in the novel were Huck voices extreme opposition to the slave trade and racism.
In chapter six, Hucks father intensely objects to the government granting suffrage to an educated black professor.Twain wants the reader to see the foolishness of this statement. Hucks father believes that he is superior to this black professor simply because of the color of his skin (Twain 69). Huck oppeses this statement made by his father and does not understand. Twain wants the reader to see the foolishness of this notion. Another example of Hucks opposition to slavery is when Huck first meets Jim he makes a conscious decision not to turn him in. Later in the story, Huck is not able to understand why this man who has become one of his only friends should be a slave.
Through this, Twain expresses opinions of the absurdity of slavery and importance of following ones personal conscious before the rules of society. Remember that the novel is set in the South. Blacks were slaves with no legal rights werefaced with high degrees of discrimination. Their status is lower than that of a white person, and Huck grows up debating that reality. It is a barrier at first between himself and Jim, which they eventually realize and overcome.
By the end of the novel, Huck and the reader have come to understand that Jim is not someones property but an equal.Another argument that has come up in this debate is how Twain gives Jim an accent and uses many misspellings in his dialogue. An example of this is when Jim says “Drot your pore broken heart.
. what are you heaving your pore broken heart at us fr? We haint done nothing” (Twain 124). The use of an occasional apostrophe and misspelling increases the level of detail in the novel, it adds an element to the feeling of the characters, not a racist undertone. If Mark Twian was such a racist, why would he constantly make the black man look better than all of the whites? Quite visibly, Jim acts better than all of the white characters in the book.Jim is loyal to Huck, he goes along with him and protects him to the best of his ability. He also has a very clear plan, and that is to go to Cairo, escape to a free state and make enough money to buy his family or have the Underground Railroad free them (Fischkin 3). His loyalties are to his family and friends. You can compare him to Huck, who is a good guy but even he is running away from society and being a rebel.
Other white characters include the King and the Duke who exploit, cheat, and steal from anyone they can find, having no morals whatsoever. Sheapardson, who is white, murders a man in cold blood. Whites together in the book generally signify a lynch mob of sorts.
Other examples, such as the orphans, are so thoughtless that they practically give away their money to their exploiters (Conn 1). Twain paints a sad image of the morals of most white characters in the story. The actions of the characters point to things being wrong with society, not to point a finger at blacks. Because Jim lives, as the Times column pointed out, “on a higher ethical level than anybody else in this book including Huck.
He is a hero in the novel but not enough of a noble hero to be considered politically correct in today’s society” (Times 6). In fact, many people have noticed this about the novel: Twain is using th …