Racism in Huckleberry Finn

A paper which questions whether or not the novel “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain combats or reinforces racist attitudes.

The paper examines the issue of racism in Mark Twain’s
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. It discusses the controversy which has surrounded this novel for some time, largely because of the setting the South and the inclusion of the black man Jim, a slave who is seen by some as a stereotyped house slave always ready to do the bidding of white masters. The paper argues that this is a wrong reading of the book, which is structured in a way that brings Jim into equal prominence with the main character, Huckleberry Finn, and elevates him in terms of native intelligence about the dreamer and romantic, Tom Sawyer. It shows that there is no doubt that Twain is depicting a racist society, for that is what he saw when he looked around at the South of his day. He suggests this through several different characters who are found along the journey undertaken by Huck and Jim. The fact that the novel includes racism does not make it racist itself. The paper shows that another reason why some charge that the book is racist is because of the use of the word “nigger” throughout the book. The author of the paper summarizes that whether the book is seen as combating or reinforcing racist attitudes depends on how much understanding the reader brings to the task of reading the book.
This contrast persists in terms of racial attitudes as well. At first, Huck accepts the way society views slaves. However, the more he travels with Jim down the river, the more he comes to see Jim as a human being. This causes the boy great pain because of the way he has been raised, and here Twain shows graphically how racist attitudes are passed down through the generations. Nichols shows in his essay that Twain saw society as a force that could overcome the natural innocence and goodness Twain believed Americans possessed. Nichols suggests that the book says much that is valuable about the society of the time even though it also exaggerates other elements.