The Racism In Huckelberry Finn Essay Research — страница 2

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would he say, ?Go on en save me, nemmine ?bout a doctor f?r to save dis one? Is dat like Mars Tom Sawyer? Would he say dat: You bet he wouldn?t! Well, den, is Jim gwyne to say it? No, sah–I doan ?budge a step out?n dis place, ?dout a doctor; not if it?s forty year! (Twain, 264) Through closer examination of Huckleberry Finn, it is revealed that Twain relies on satirical passages to further express his non-racial emphasis. In one scene, for example, 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.” (Twain, 213) Anyone who believes that Mark Twain meant this literally is missing the point. Rather, Twain is using this casual

dialogue ironically, as a way to underscore the chilling truth about the old south, that it was a society where perfectly “nice” people didn’t consider the death of a black person worth their notice (Salwen). In further support of Twain?s satiric intent, during a recent interview between David Gergen, editor-at-large of “U.S. News & World Report,” and Shelley Fisher Fishkin, a professor of American studies in English and author of ?Lighting out for the Territory: Reflections on Mark Twain and American Culture?, Fishkin stated: In ?Huckleberry Finn?, the word “nigger” is used over 200 times. Twain understood that if you?re going to satirize racists, you have to let them speak the way they would have spoken. You have to show them convincingly to show what?s wrong

with them. Although satirical references run rampant throughout Huckleberry Finn, Twain’s character portrayals can often be seen in a more serious light. Jim is never presented in a negative way. He is not portrayed as a drunkard, as a mean person or as a cheat. This is in contrast to the way Huck’s father, Pap, is depicted, whom is described using all of the above characterizations and more. Jim is seen as a good friend, a man devoted to his family and loyal to his companions. In the South during that period, black people were treated as less than human and the examples of the way Jim is denigrated: by being locked up, having to hide his face in the daytime and how he is generally derided, needed to be portrayed for historical accuracy. Huck, however, does not treat Jim as

most whites do. Huck looks at Jim as a friend, and by the end of their journey, disagrees with society’s notion that blacks are inferior. An example of this is when Huck is faced with a decision to tell of Jim’s whereabouts, which would return Jim to slavery, ?he wrestles with his conscience, and when the crucial moment comes he decides he will be damned to the flames of hell rather than betray his black friend? (Salwen). Throughout the years, hundreds of critics have dwelled on the controversy over the racial epithets in Huckleberry Finn. Booker T. Washington, who has known Samuel Clemens for a number of years, believed Clemens? interest in the Negro race is expressed best in Huckleberry Finn. He stated in his Tribute to Mark Twain: I do not believe any one can read this

story closely, however, without becoming aware of the deep sympathy of the author in Jim. In fact, before one gets through with the book, one cannot fail to observe that in some way or other the author, without making any comment and without going out of his way, has somehow succeeded in making his readers feel a genuine respect for “Jim,” in spite of the ignorance he displays. The great black novelist Ralph Ellison, too, noted how Twain allows Jim’s “dignity and human capacity” to emerge in the novel. Huckleberry Finn knew, as did Mark Twain, that Jim was not only a slave but a human being and a symbol of humanity . . . and in freeing Jim, Huck makes a bid to free himself of the conventionalized evil taken for civilization by the town. (Salwen) Shelley Fisher Fishkin

points out that, in interpreting Jim’s superstitions as evidence he is simple-minded, for example, modern readers might be revealing more about their ignorance of his culture (and arrogance towards folk culture in general) than about the inherent simple-mindedness of Jim’s beliefs. And she argues that many of the stories in which a white person seems to get the better of Jim have a second reading in which Jim remains the hero of his version of the story, in spite of the white world’s attempts to ridicule him. A thorough examination of Mark Twain?s life and times, characterizations throughout Huckleberry Finn, and critiques by literary experts, reveals that Mark Twain was not racist, nor was his intent to perpetuate racism through his novel. I have no color prejudices nor