Mark Twain Racist? Essay

1189 words - 5 pages

There are many degrees of racism. During his time, Mark Twain was forward thinking and championed the downtrodden and oppressed. The only example of racism is his treatment of the Goshoot Indians in Roughing It. The main body of his work points to innovative anti-racist themes. Even if one admits that Twain hatches some derogatory stereotypes, labeling his work unteachable to our own time is extremely shortsighted (Kesterson 12). If Twain was racist, the process of learning is supposed to combat backwards teaching from our past through exposition and discussion.Mark Twain is one of the most controversial authors (Kesterson 3). In recent years, there has been increasing controversy over the ideas expressed in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The novel has even been banned by public school systems and censored by public libraries. The basis for this censorship is that Mark Twain's book is racist, but what people do not realize is Twain was against racism and used this book to make people aware of what was going on in the south. Mark Twain wrote about the life lived around him. He made people realize what was actually taking place daily by using southern dialect, showing the attitude of the other characters toward African Americans, and showing his depiction of black characters. Mark Twain was anti-slavery.Mark Twain was the first American author to use explicit common folk dialect in his writings. Many people think dialect such as excerpts from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is all false (Smith 23). In truth, Mark Twain's dialect is not accidental. It is composed of completely accurate forms of backwoods, southwestern dialect. An example of Huck's dialect is "The widow Douglas she took me for her son, and allowed she civilize me; but it was rough living in the house all the time, considering how dismal regular and descent the widow was in all her ways; and so when I couldn't stand it no longer I lit out" (Twain 1). An example of Aunt Polly's mainstream, yet common dialect is "Tom, you didn't have to undo your shirt collar where I sewed it, to pump on your head, did you? Unbutton your jacket!" (Twain 6). An example of Jim's dialect is "Yo' ole father doan' know yit what he's a-gwyne to do. Some times he spec he'll go 'way, nen den ag'in he spec he'll stay" (Twain 19). These excerpts were not meant to be interpreted in a racist manner. Mark Twain was just giving examples of the lives that were being lived around him.Racial slurs are used throughout The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. They are meant to accurately depict common language and expressions regarding Black Americans at the time, not whether or not the author is racist or has racist thoughts. Certain expressions also reveal the attitudes of the time. An example of the use of racial slurs is "The nigger run off the very night Huck Finn was killed. So there's a reward out for him - three hundred dollars" (Twain 55). Another use of racial slurs is "Has everybody quit thinking the nigger...

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