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Social Incongruency

Social Incongruency As controversial as he is, Mark Twain has been accused by some, of being a racist writer, whose writing is offensive to black readers. His novels have also been labeled as promoting slave-era stereotypes. Therefore, many people believe The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn deserves no place on today's bookshelves. To those of us who have delved wholeheartedly into Twain's wisdom and humanity, such accusations come across as ludicrous. To Twain's critics, the novel is superficially racist for the most obvious reason: many characters continually use the word “nigger”. Yet, since the book takes place in the south, twenty years before the Civil War, such semantics were common occurrences. Therefore, should Twain be criticized for being historically correct? One should hope not. A closer reading of the novel also reveals Twain's serious satirical intent. In one scene, for instance, Aunt Sally hears of a steamboat explosion:‘Good gracious! anybody hurt?’ she asks. ‘No’m,’ comes the answer. ‘Killed a nigger.’ ‘Well, it's lucky, because sometimes people do get hurt.’ (213)The people of this time period saw African Americans as expendable. If they were killed, it would be viewed simply as a financial loss. Twain is not being racist. He is simply conveying to the readers the nuances of everyday life in that time when slavery was common practice. That's a small case in point. But what is the book really about? It's about nothing less than freedom and the quest for one’s freedom. It's about a slave who breaks the law and risks his life to win his freedom and be reunited with his family, and a white boy who becomes his friend and helps him escape. Because of his upbringing, the boy starts out believing that slavery is part of the natural order of life. Yet, as the story unfolds, he wrestles with his conscience. When the crucial mo...

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