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.

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