I recently read the book Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. This story deals Mainly with a lost boy escaping his harsh existence, and a slave trying to reach freedom. During the course of this book, the slave Jim, and the Boy Huck Bond with each other. I enjoyed this book immensely for a couple different reasons. While I liked the story, and the plot kept me interested, the real reason I found myself enjoying this book so much, was Mark Twain’s use of the underlying theme of racism.
In this story, I found myself admiring Huck’s innocent approach to slavery, and the treatment of slaves. Is Huck Finn a racist? Now this is a tough question. I would be tempted to say no. He always treats his run away slave-partner Jim equally. Never in this book once did he treat a black any different then he would have treated any white in the same situation. Whether or not Huck was intending to be racist, the fact still remains that he did not think of blacks as equal. In the time period Huck Finn was written white children grew up with the mentality that they were a higher social class then the blacks. . I think Huck was subconsciously racist, but too innocent to understand it’s meaning, or even come to a conclusion about whether slavery was right or wrong.
All his life Huck had lived in an environment in which slavery and racism were perfectly normal. To him questioning the morality of slavery would be like us questioning whether it’s morally right to keep house pets. Huck acquired his racism from his parental figures. When Huck was living with the widow, she had slaves around. Huck became used to slaves tending to his needs. For a short period in the book, Huck went to live with his dad. His dad frequently displayed his dislike for blacks, especially free ones. Even at the end of the book when Huck was good friends with Jim he was still influenced racially.
Aunt Sally asked Huck why the steamboat took so long getting there. Huck said, “We blowed a cylinder-head.” “Good gracious anybody hurt?” “No’m killed a nigger.” “Well it’s lucky; because sometimes people do get hurt” (Twain 199). Whether or not Huck was trying to be racist is irrelevant, the fact is his home life taught him racism as a way of life.
Huck's innocence severely handicapped his racism. Throughout the book Jim was just about Huck’s only friend, yet Jim was black. Jim looks out for Huck like a father...