Huck Finn Racism
Is Huck Finn A Racist Book?
Ever since its publication over a hundred years ago, controversy has swarmed around one of Mark Twain’s most popular novels, Huck Finn. Even then, many educators supported its dismissal from school libraries. For post Civil-War Americans, the argument stemmed from Twain’s use of spelling errors, poor grammar, and curse words. In the politically correct 1990’s however, the point of argument has now shifted to one of the major themes of the book: Racism. John Wallace once said of the book, “It’s the most grotesque version of racist trash” ever written. Were Twain’s archetypal characters and use of vernacular language an assertion of his own racist views, or a critique of the injustice of White society?
Many readers misinterpret racist remarks by characters in the novel as reflections of Twain’s own beliefs supporting slavery. These claims, though, can be easily repudiated by some of Twain’s comparisons between whites and blacks made outside of Huck Finn; for instance when he said, “One of my theories is that the hearts of men are all alike, all over the world, whatever their skin complexion may be”. This brings into question the reason for Twain’s frequent use of the word “nigger”, not to mention the exceedingly racist views harbored by most characters.
It is true that the book is peppered with racist stereotypes, lewd remarks belittling blacks, and the use of the word “nigger” over 200 times, but it is all part of the irony. Twain wrote this book not only to challenge the system of slavery, but also to do so with the most effective of literary devices: the truth. Huck Finn is not racist: It is a profound social statement on the inhumanity of...