Adventures of Huckleberry Finn In recent years, there has been increasing discussion of the seemingly racist ideas expressed by Mark Twain in Huckleberry Finn. In some extreme cases the novel has even been banned by public school systems and censored by public libraries. The basis for these censorship campaigns has been the depiction of one of the main characters in Huckleberry Finn, Jim, a black slave. Jim, is a “typical” black slave who runs away from his “owner,” Miss Watson. At several points in the novel, Jim’s character is described to the reader, and some people have looked upon the characterization as racist. However, before one begins to censor a novel it is important to separate the ideas of the author from the ideas’ of his characters. It is also important not to take a novel at face value and to “read between the lines” in order to capture the underlying themes of a novel. If one were to do this in relation to Huckleberry Finn, one would, without doubt, realize that it is not racist and is even anti-slavery. Through society, Huck’s father and Huck, Mark Twain reveals a challenge to slavery.
On a superficial level Huckleberry Finn might appear to be racist. The first time the reader meets Jim he is given a very negative description of Jim. The reader is told 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 and of whom it is being given. Although Huck is not a racist child, he has been raised by extremely racist individuals who have, even if only subconsciously, ingrained some feelings of bigotry into his mind. It is also important to remember that this description, although it is quite saddening, was probably accurate. Jim and the millions of other slaves in the South were not permitted any formal education, were never allowed any independent thought and were constantly mistreated and abused. Twain is merely portraying by way of Jim, a very realistic slave raised in the South during that time period. To say that Twain is racist because of his desire for historical accuracy is absurd.
Despite the few incidences in which Jim’s description might be misconstrued as racist, there are many points in the novel where Twain through Huck, voices his extreme opposition to the slave trade and racism.
Free Huckleberry Finn Essays: From Conformity to Manhood
From Conformity to Manhood
In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck is the narrator. The character of Huck Finn was very different than the society that he was born into. Mr. Twain uses Huck’s open mindedness as a window to let humor and the book’s points and morals shine through. Huck always takes things very literally. This not only adds to the humor of the book, but it also lets some of the books deeper messages come through. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, traces the story of a young man, Huck Finn, from conformity to the Southern way of thinking, to his own ideas about religion, wealth and slavery.
In the first scenes of the book Huck is struggling to understand the concepts of Miss Watson’s heaven and hell. He finds her harp strumming view of heaven boring and he wants to be in an exciting place. When Miss Watson tells Huck that he will get anything he prays for, he takes it very literally and decides to pray for fishing line, which he gets. But praying for fishing hooks didn’t seem to work, when he asks her to pray for him to get some fishing hooks she calls him an idiot. These are both gentle pokes at southern religion. Christianity practiced a people so very pious, like Miss Watson, who can still treat their human slaves like property. This is an ongoing theme in the book. Twain points out some of the absurd incongruences between Christianity and the lifestyle of most of the south. Huck has not conformed to societies general way of thinking. When he is with the widow and Miss Watson, he begins to change, but Pap steals him away and he reverts back to a much more practical lifestyle.
Huck places very little value on the large sum of money that he has in the bank, while he finds smaller sums more important. Six thousand dollars was a fortune in the time that the book was written, but Huck, unlike the rest of his society wasn’t impressed by it. This is again because of his literal mindedness. What could he use six thousand dollars for? He could use ten cents to buy some food, or five cents to buy some fishing line, but he had no use for huge sums of money. Society put value on wealth and property and book learning.