Mark Twain And American History Essay

1363 words - 6 pages

When people think ‘American History’, they usually think about wars and any major events that happened to and within the United States of America. They normally forget about authors that wrote books based on normal every day life and things that some people would take for granted. For example, Slavery was a major issue because people in the South thought it was normal to own slaves and people of the North believed that was wrong. Mark Twain was a famous American author who wrote about Slavery and contributed to American History by offering his own unique writing style to the world. Several of his books became banned from libraries because adults didn’t like the lessons they were teaching their children and the Southern style of speaking.
“They have expelled Huck from their library as ‘Trash suitable only for the slums’. That will sell 25,000 copies for sure” (Mark Twain 2). Mark Twain wrote many books that later became Challenged (a personal letter written to libraries to have a book removed) or banned from libraries across America. His books were removed because parents thought that they were too racist and were teaching their children bad things about our History. “Look at that Huck Finn, reared in racism, like all the white kids in his town. And then, on the river, on the raft with Jim, shucking off that blind ignorance because this runaway slave is the most honest, perceptive, fair-minded man this white boy has ever known. What a book for the children, all the Children” (Hentoff 3). After Mark Twain, no writer could ignore the issue of Slavery.
Twain’s father, seeking better job opportunities, moved his family to Missouri. There, Twain found his inspiration to write about life on the Mississippi. His original name being Samuel Clemens, he even got his nickname from the Mississippi. Clemens had several pen names throughout his lifetime, but he picked up the name ‘Mark Twain’ from workers of the river boats on the Mississippi. They would call out ‘Mark Twain’ to indicate that the water was deep enough for the boat to travel. Clemens kept the name for most of his life.
Incidents and places from Mark’s childhood often appeared in his books. Glasscock’s Island and McDowell’s cave became Jackson’s Island and McDougal’s cave for the book “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”. Twain had once witnessed a man die in the street after a local merchant had shot him; this incident provided the basis for the Boggs shooting in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”. Twain’s friend Tom Blankenship became the model for Huck Finn. Mark Twain grew up in a Slave State and was familiar with the issue of slavery. Twain fashioned his tales from the conflicts arising from the enslavement of black people and afterwards the denial of their freedom. As a boy, Mark often visited the slave cabins on his family’s farm. Here he would listen to the stories told by a slave named Dan. Dan later became the basis for the Fugitive Jim in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”.
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