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Racism Can Go To Hell Essay

1487 words - 6 pages

Although Mark Twain loved his Southern roots, he greatly detested the establishment of slavery and its prominence in the society in which he lived. Throughout his novel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain criticizes the basis for slavery and those who attempt to justify its morality. As Huck travels down the Mississippi River, he discovers an increasing amount of not only falsities in society’s perspective on blacks, but also its hypocrisies. Along with Huck, the reader grows increasingly indignant towards a society that imprisons and oppresses black people. Near the end of the novel, Huck decides to reject societal beliefs about racism and rescues Jim from slavery. Twain uses ...view middle of the document...

Rather, Jim simply mentions to Huck how sad he felt about losing him in the fog and how happy he felt after they reunited. Ralph Ellison, a black author, believes:
Huckleberry Finn knew, as did Mark Twain, that Jim was not only a slave but a human being [and] a symbol of humanity . . . and in freeing Jim, Huck makes a bid to free himself of the conventionalized evil taken for civilization by the town[…]-- in other words, of the abomination of slavery itself. (Salwen, par. 13)
Twain utilizes Jim as an example of the lie behind the prejudices against blacks in Southern society. Twain uses Jim’s character as a symbolic contradiction to societal beliefs about Blacks
Twain describes racism as a form of ignorance - a clouded perception of facts - through the use of clever diction. Prior to deciding to condemn slavery, Huck states “[Jim was] glad […] when I come back out of the fog” (Twain 283). Since Twain designates Jim as the symbolic contradiction of the Southern prejudices against blacks (as described in the previous paragraph), Jim’s animosity towards the fog prompts the reader to view the mist as Twain’s symbol for racism. Twain wants the reader to connect the idea that racial prejudices, like a fog, can obscure one’s perception regarding blacks. Huck’s initial treatment of Jim after his return from the fog also supports this symbolic significance. When he reappears on the raft, Huck treats Jim as an ignorant black man by trying to trick Jim into believing he dreamt the fog incident. Racism’s influence on Huck affects his interaction with Jim after his exposure to the fog’s innards. By comparing racism to fog, Twain conveys his belief that racism adulterates one’s vision
Prior to rejecting the institution of slavery, Huck recalls the incident on the river between the Shepherdsons and Grangerfords, also known as the “feud” (283). Twain mentions this event close to the climax of the novel’s anti-slavery theme because it accurately and completely embodies all the hypocrisies of black prejudices. Many actions of the black people in Chapter 18 sharply contrast with those of the white people. Firstly, the Grangerford family members put on the guise of civility when in actuality they incarnate savages. The slaves of the Grangerford family display their peaceful characteristics by aiding Jim after he and Huck separate. Jim describes one of the slaves, Jack, as “a good nigger, en pooty smart” (150). Indeed, Jack displays his cleverness by not incriminating himself in aiding a runaway slave. When he wants to bring Huck to Jim, Jack tells him he wishes to show him some “water-moccasins” (148) and does not actually witness the pair reunite. Paradoxically, the Grangerfords and Shepherdsons demonstrate a pathetically idiotic ideology. Both families constantly engage in violent battles against each other for reasons unbeknownst to either of them. Southerners also associate the quality of untrustworthiness with blacks. The white...

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