Huck Finn: Racist or Not?

Based on the perpetual use of the “N” word throughout the book, any sensible being would consider Huck Finn to be a racist novel. With Jim being a main character, and the only man of color in the story, we only can look towards Jim to decipher whether the book is racist or not. From the beginning to the end Huck, and others, refer to Jim using solely racial slurs. However, the depiction of Jim and Huck’s treatment to Jim suggests that the novel is not prejudiced.

Firstly, Jim is portrayed as an all around good person. In the second half of the book, Huck calls Jim a “good nigger” multiple times. Jim always would always let Huck sleep while ” it was his turn”(211) to keep watch. Towards the end, Jim helped Tom after he got shot and nursed him. Jim even sacrificed his freedom to help Tom. Jim performed the ultimate sacrifice for Tom: a chance at relapsing into slavery. He also protected Huck by “never let[ting] on to know me [Huck]”(289). Yet, Jim requests the bare minimum, only “bread and water”(289). To put these things in other terms, Jim is a stand-up man. He is fair; caring; and doesn’t cede anything if it will hurt others.

http://twain.lib.virginia.edu/wilson/slavery/hfslav16.jpg

Furthermore, the friendship Jim and Huck develop crushes any thoughts of racism. Although he didn’t realize until later in the book Huck comes to find that he values Jim a great deal. In chapter 31 Huck is unsure whether he should turn Jim in or not. He learned in sunday school that anyone who helps “nigger[s] goes to everlasting fire”. However, Huck refuses to turn in Jim he would rather “go to hell”(246) than hurt Jim. This shows the significance of Jim in Huck’s life. Huck, willingly, would bear eternal pain instead of turning in Jim. Another example of their friendship is when Huck thought that Jim had been sold. Upon hearing this information, Huck “begun to cry”(248). The reason as to why the friendship has so much importance is because Huck is the protagonist of the novel. Due to this, the mere fact that Jim is a great friend of Huck puts down the thought of racism; the entire novel contains a story of a runaway slave and a white boy.

Nevertheless, the book is not racist. Once one looks ” beyond the word ‘nigger'” it is glaring that the novel, actually, involves a great deal of satire towards slavery. In many different scenes Twain describes how horrible it would be for Jim to go back to slavery, multiple scenes talk of how great Jim is. Fittingly, the book ends with Jim being “prime” and treated excellently. Twain did this to leave a lasting impression that Jim is good, in fact, excellent.

 

Sources:

http://vc.bridgew.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1166&context=br_rev

 

A Glimpse Into Huck Finn

In a brief glance one may think that Huckleberry Finn is a rudimentary character and nothing more. However, after analysis it can be found that Huck Finn presents a more intricate character with defining facets. However, his most important trait is his impartiality towards all. This can be found through close examination of Huck’s reactions towards the environment he is in, and the people he interacts with.

Throughout the first half of the novel Huck resides in multiple, distinct, areas. To begin, he lives with Widow Douglass. Finn absolutely detests living with her in the start of his residence there. He describes it as: “so lonesome I[Huck] wished I was dead”, “I did wish I had company”. The scenery also indicates how Finn feels: the leaves “rustled… ever so mournful”. A pervasive scene of death in the paragraph further suggests that Huck despises his situation: “I was dead… somebody that was dead… somebody that was going to die… a ghost”. Nevertheless, Huck abhors the Widow’s household. However, the later comes to like it. The “Widow’s ways” slowly grow on him, “they warn’t so raspy on me[Huck]. He later “could stand school” and “liked the new [ways]. This same structure reappears several times throughout the book. When Huck’s surroundings change he does not acclimate well in the beginning. However, he later comes to terms with his living arrangements and enjoys them. He encounters all walks of life: poverty, wealth, river life, hunter trapper life, etc. But not one area stands out to Huck, he has impartiality towards all which shows that he adapts easily and is happy anywhere.

The perpetual theme of impartialness also manifests itself in Huck’s treatment towards others that are close to him. Huck is not mean individual, he instead presents himself with the same conduct to all. An example is his relationship with Jim. Jim, a slave who was owned by Widow Douglass, receives as much respect as any other character in the book. Finn describes him as “smart”, “good”; Huck evens develops a strong friendship with Jim. But he also is as respectful towards Jim as to Buck, Widow Douglass, the Duke and the King, etc. This shows that he is unbiased of backgrounds and complies with everyone close to him.

Nevertheless, the defining feature of Huck is that he is unprejudiced, which is demonstrated in both his surroundings and his interactions with others. This general respect reveals that Huck represents a protagonist and an overall good person.