Prejudice and Racism in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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Prejudice and Racism in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Despite all the criticism, of racism and other questionable material for young readers, Mark Twain’s The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn is a superbly written novel, which in the opinion of this reviewer should not be remove the literary cannon. Twain’s novel is a coming of age story that teaches young people many valuable lessons and to some extend makes students reexamine their own lives and morals. The most common argument for its removal from the literary canon is that the novel is too racist; it offends black readers, perpetuates cheap slave-era stereotypes, and deserves no place on today’s bookshelves. However one must ask if Twain is encouraging
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To get a better assessment on Twain’s views on racism, we must analyze Jim, the major black character. Twain never presents Jim in a negative light. He does not show Jim as a drunkard, as a mean person or as a cheat. This is in contrast to the way Huck’s white father is depicted, whom Twain describes using all of the above characterizations and more. We see Jim as a good friend, a man devoted to his family and loyal to his companions. He is, however, very naive and superstitious. He is constantly referring to “ghosts” and “witches.” Some critics say that Twain is implying that all blacks have these qualities. Huck says that, “Jim, had a hair-ball as big as your fist, which had been took out of the fourth stomach of an ox, and he used to do magic with it” (Twain, H.F. 1275). When Jim turns to his magic “hair-ball” for answers about the future, we see that he does believe in some foolish things. But all the same, he is visited by both blacks and whites to use the hair-ball’s powers. This type of naivete was abundant at the time and found among all races, as the result of a lack of proper education. So the depiction of Jim is not negative in the sense that Jim is stupid and inferior, and in this aspect of the story clearly there is no racism intended.

Huck’s views towards the black Jim cannot be ignored
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