This alternation can also be seen in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, a nostalgic reminiscence that at the same time lays waste to the pious hypocrisies of the adults Twain knew as a boy in Hannibal, Missouri. Its style, speculates Charles A. Norton, may be Athe result of the author=s wide experience, his extensive reading, his sharp mind and his command of language--the result of his talents rather than a manipulation of his material for so-called deeper meanings@ (132). Norton also believes that Twain=s Atalent was best suited to the writing of sketches@ (132), observing that Ait is most likely that the writing of Tom Sawyer began with the authoring of individual sketches@ (133). In the end, these sketches add up to Aa unified theme, making acceptable the normal >bad= boy as opposed to the unnatural >model= boy of nineteenth-century Sunday school literature@ (133).
Far less sentimental and idealized was Twain=s most famous, and most often praised and criticized, novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The praise and the criticism are usually focused on the same elements: the portrayal of the slave Jim and the repeated use of the word Anigger.@ Notwithstanding that the story is told in the first person by Huck, who is a product of his time, and that slavers and abolitionists alike always spoke of black people as Aniggers@, that black people themselves at that time called each other Anigger@, these stylistic elements have gotten the book banned in many American schools on the basis that they show the author to be a racist, no matter that the book as a whole is an argument against racial bigotry.
Critic Guy Cardwell does see Twain and the novel as racist because Twain, a man of his time, did have a bigoted view of blacks as a young man. AThroughout Clemens=s career as a writer,@ he notes, ANegroes interested him primarily because they were useful to him for local color, pathos and comedy. It is, indeed, untenably sanguine to hold that Adventures of Huckleberry Fi