Friday, February 17, 2012

Reaction to the Verdict

This Mock Trial has been another project of my two year long Provenzano experience. As a lawyer for the prosecution of this trial, I had prep work and research to do, write and present the opening statement, direct and cross examine witnesses, and deal with the defense and Mr. Twain gloating over their not guilty verdict. 

After getting my Urgent Memo from District Attorney Provenzano telling me that I was a lawyer for the prosecution, I complained, to everyone. I did not want to be a prosecution lawyer, because I didn't and don't believe that Mark Twain was racist. The first step for me was to just make myself believe that Mr. Twain was racist. After I begrudgingly reached that goal, I had to plan a way to prove he was racist. I stressed myself out, because I didn't really know what to do on my own. Luckily, I did after working with my fellow lawyers as well as talking about my findings and ideas with Mr. Pro. I also researched Mark Twain's life, looking for evidence to prove he was racist and  writing from his racist experience. The strongest evidence I found against Mark Twain was that he volunteered in the Civil War on the side of the Civil Army. Later on, this evidence proved to be useful. I was also in charge of writing the opening statement.  I knew that this was our chance to make a lasting and strong impression, and I was extremely nervous.

After writing the opening statement, it was time to present it. I was the opening to the opening, the very first part of the trial. Everyone was fully focused as it was the beginning of our project, so I felt the need for it to be perfect. Unfortunately, my nerves got to me, and I became a jumble of nerves. My presentation did not go as well as I planned. The direct examining went much smoother, and I felt in control. The other prosecution lawyers and I had chosen who we were going to question and cross examine, so we had a chance to practice with our own witnesses beforehand. I questioned Jim, and did a fairly good job of it. The greatest fun I had during the whole trial was cross examining Mark Twain. That moment counted the most for our argument, and I thought I was making strong and obvious points. However, the Jury didn't believe so.

The Jury decided that Mr. Twain was not guilty of being a racist. Although I was a bit bummed that we didn't convince the majority of the Jury well enough to listen to us, we did convince a few. However, I totally agree with the verdict the Jury reached. Although I felt that the Prosecution did an amazing job, I believe that the Defense just overall had and easier case, and they were on their game. They made points that were more straightforward and obvious, and didn't have as a roundabout way of bringing their evidence together to a close. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Huckleberry Finn is Racist

 Huck Finn's journey has finally come to somewhat of an end. Throughout Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the reader forms an opinion of Huck based on his actions, habits, and characteristics. One of the most disputed opinions is whether or not Huck is a racist. Given the evidence from the text, I believe Huck Finn is a racist. However, it should be noted that Huck is a “conflicted racist”. Huck is not racist only when his other personal beliefs come into conflict with his racism. Being a racist, Huck wrote a letter to Miss Watson telling her the whereabouts and procedure to retrieve her slave Jim, which would most certainly return Jim into slavery. Instead, Huck decided to free Jim. “I took it (letter) up, and held it in my hand. I was a-trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath . . . and tore it up . . . and for a starter I would go to work and steal Jim out of slavery again . . .” (Twain 207). Huck only comes to this conclusion after recollecting many genuine moments of friendship between himself and Jim. If Jim and Huck were not friends and didn’t have a father son type relationship, Huck would have sent the letter without a doubt, due to his racist beliefs. Huck follows through with his plan to free Jim and succeeds. Even though Huck frees Jim, there are many examples in the book where Huck treats Jim poorly because of his racist beliefs.

Through Huck’s actions in the book, it is made known to the reader that he is not a mean spirited person. However, Huck usually does not treat Jim with the respect a friend, father figure, and elder deserves, as he is a conflicted racist. Jim reacts negatively to a prank Huck played on him, and he feels conflicted about how to handle the situation. Huck eventually makes the tough decision to apologize for his wrongdoing. “It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a nigger; but I done it . . .” (Twain 89). Huck’s specific word choice of humble shows that he thought he was superior to Jim, as he is white and Jim is African American. Huck’s feeling superiority based on race is the fundamental definition of racism. There are more examples of Huck’s mistreatment of Jim. Huck calls Jim his property and says Jim can’t argue logically because he’s black, and a white person could. These actions of Huck are what make him racist.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Irony of Huck Finn's Decision

There is a fine line between good and evil. However, the line between what people believe to be good and believe to be evil is much more undefined. In The Adventures of Huck Finn, one of the disputable topics mentioned is that of slavery. In the time period of Huck Finn, the majority of people believed slavery was a good practice. Today, the majority of people have changed their mind, believing that slavery was bad. One of the undisputable topics is Heaven and Hell. Heaven is where good people reside, and Hell is where the evil people inhabit. However, the disputable topic of slavery is brought up again. Huck decides to free Jim, after all the good Jim’s done, from being sold back into slavery. Like every action, there is always a consequence. Huck exclaims, "All right then, I'll go to hell" (Twain 207). The irony is that Huck is doing a good thing, liberating someone who deserves freedom; yet he believes he will be punished for it by spending his afterlife in Hell. Hell is for evil people, not good people that free slaves. Huck’s belief of reprimand is heavily dependent upon the morals of society at that time.

Many people look back upon the time of early America as a time of backwardness. People’s morals depended not only on law, but also greatly on religion. Today, morality is based upon both the former and latter, but the latter is less emphasized. When contemplating his moral dilemma, Huck’s argument with himself turned to the Lord and his messengers. “ . . . There was the Sunday-school, you could ‘a’ gone to it; and if you’d ‘a’ done it they’d ‘a’ learnt you there that people that acts as I’d been acting about that nigger goes to everlasting fire” (Twain 206). It was illegal to help slaves escape or runaway slaves to safety. Illegality and Hell are both bad things, and people deliberately used these bad things together to make others listen to and follow instructions. This shows how much law and religion coincided with each other. The laws of the time are ironic. People believed dutifully in all aspects of religion, yet they did not truly take the aspects to heart. The people up there are believed to love everyone equally, and the congregation knows this. However, in those days, the people down here still treated blacks poorly, and made them their slaves. If the higher powers love everyone equally, then everyone should treat each other equally.