Controversial in death as he was in life, Mark Twain has been seriously
accused by some of being a “racist writer,” whose writing is offensive
to black readers, perpetuates cheap slave-era stereotypes, and deserves
no place on today’s bookshelves. Huck Finn is a fantastic example
of the racist style Mark Twain brings to the table. It is mostly
African-Americans that would like a book such as this banned. However,
this is ironic for it is equally racist against whites as it is against
The anti-black feelings of this novel are the most obvious
forms of racism. Mark Twain uses references to slavery and
demeaning words to show Jim s inferiority to white people.
” only a runaway nigger “(278) The other instance that showed
the subordinate status of Jim was in depicting him as a fortune
teller. “Miss Watson s nigger, Jim, had a hair-ball as big
as your fist, which had been took out of the fourth stomach of
an ox, and he used to magic with it.”(17) This portrayal is a
negative one because it portrays as ignorant. This common form
of racism is why black people want this book banned.
Next is the less obvious, yet still offensive, forms of racism
against whites. There was of course a form of ignorance in
nearly every white character in this novel, though not totally
In the book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou, she discusses the way of life in the South/ North being a Black American. "Being born black is itself a liability in a world ruled by white standards of beauty which the child is a priori in a cage of ugliness (pages 365-366, Smith)." Throughout the book, the reader should see the difference between the blacks and whites. Her ...
noticeable. The use of racist and vulgar words was constantly
heard from the white adults as well as the children in the novel.
” was Jim a runaway nigger?”(126) Constant racist remarks
from white portrayed them negatively because it made them look
Although nearly the only racist remarks in the book were whites
insulting blacks, Twain had taken on the occupation of becoming
the whites racial profiler.
” Old Miss Watson died two months ago, and she was ashamed she
ever was going to sell him down the river, and said so; and she
set him free in her will. “(290) Tom Sawyer had been playing
Jim all along just for the fun of it. Jim could nearly have
died, thanks to Tom s immaturity. It shows the lack of care
the whites had for blacks, thus, the whites have lost nearly all
of their respect. This was Mark Twain s indirect way of showing
the whites inequality to the blacks.
In today s age, the ideas of racism have definitely changed.
Slavery is no more, and even the use of such language as
“nigger,” is considered vulgar. But, as children such as Huck
and Tom grew up considering slavery the “normal,” children today
grow up learning the exact opposite. There are still remnants
of racism today such as the KKK, but nothing as compared to
those during the times of slavery. I believe Mark Twain was
trying to depict not only how life was in those times, but also
how bad it could turn. Even though Huck Finn is fictional,
it deserves a spot next to the biography of Martin Luther
King Jr., and Malcom X. However, had I lived in the 1800 s,
I might not have thought the same.