Mark Twain a Racist? Absolutely not!

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Celebrating its 135th anniversary this year, Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a classic of American literature and is read by millions across the nation every year. However, many claim that the book promotes and endorses the heinous act of racism. In their attacks on the classic, many of the book’s critics employ evidence such as the use of the n-word 211 times (Powers, 2010) and the novel’s repeated inferior depiction of African-Americans. Many supporters of the novel, though, hail it for being so controversial. They claim that the dialogue started when discussing the book is a great chance for students to broaden their views on many controversial topics. As Harris puts it (2000), "If it isn't a dangerous book, there…show more content…
When Huck finds out about the Duke and Dauphin’s plan to cheat the Phelps sisters out of their inheritance, he states "Well, if I ever struck anything like it, I'm a [n-word]. It was enough to make a body ashamed of the human race" (Twain, 1986, page 175). In this quote, Huck appears to be racist and insensitive, however, he is just acting the way he has been taught his whole life. Huck’s racism is not the product of an immoral soul, just an immoral society that raised him. However, Twain’s choice of a young and apparently racist boy in the novel can be accounted for by his own childhood experiences. Twain is quoted as saying “In my schoolboy days I had no aversion to slavery. I was not aware that there was anything wrong about it. No one arraigned it in my hearing; the local papers said nothing against it; the local pulpit taught us that God approved it, that it was a holy thing, and the doubter need only look in the Bible if he wished to settle his mind — and then the texts were read aloud do us to make the matter sure” (Camfield, 2005). This quote has been a lightning rod for controversy, as critics claim that it proves Twain’s racism. However, just as Huck grows to detest the institution, Twain soon realized slavery for the evil that it was and began to detest it. Just like Huck, he grew up comfortable with demeaning

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