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Racism Debate

OdehThere is a major argument among literary critics whether The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, is, or is not a racist novel. The question comes down to the depiction of Jim, the black slave, and to the way Huck and the other characters treat him. The use of the word “nigger” is a main point raised by many critics, who feel that Twain uses the word too much and too loosely. Although Mark Twain never presents Jim in a completely negative light, he is not considered a true equal. He does not show him as a drunkard, as a mean person or as a cheat. This is in contrast to the way Huck’s (white) father is depicted, whom is described using the all of the above characterizations. He is however, very nave and superstitious. This may be taken to imply that all blacks have these qualities. When Jim turns to his magic hairball for answers about the future, we see that he does believe in some foolish things. However, both whites and blacks for answers to what the future holds would visit him. This depiction of Jim is not negative in the sense that Jim is stupid or inferior, and in this aspect of the story there is no clear racism. It is necessary to analyze the way the white characters treat Jim throughout the book. In the South during that period, black people were treated less than human, and Twain needed to portray this. A few examples of Jim being denigrated were his being locked up, having to hide his face in the daytime and how he is generally derided. It is mentioned in the novel that the author did not necessarily approve of the way Jim was treated, but that it was necessary for historical accuracy. Huck, however, does not treat Jim the way most of the white characters did though. Huck looks at Jim as a friend, and by the end of their journey disagrees that blacks are inferior. There are two main examples of this in the story. The first one is where Huck is disgusted by Jim’s plans to steal his own...

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