Huckleberry Finn Look To The Past English Literature Essay

Huckleberry Finn Look To The Past English Literature Essay

When a individual chooses to pick up a pen and take on the function of writer, they accept the possibilities that their thoughts will be rejected. They face a universe full of critics cognizing that they may neglect. Some are accepted, and others are rejected. The latter is frequently caused when an writer ‘s message is seen as violative and society chooses to jostle the work aside instead than looking past whatever offends them to the true message. Such is the instance with the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain which should be included in the grade 7-12 course of study. Despite popular belief, the book is non supportive of racism but instead founded in the belief that racism should non be allowed to be. It was non intended to prejudice readers against different races but instead to denounce a clip period when such biass were non merely common but expected, and accepted by American society. Regardless of the sentiments of some critics, the book is suited to be read by pupils of all ages, and it should be read by those pupils because there is no other novel that can compare to Twain ‘s chef-d’oeuvre.

There are some who believe that Twain ‘s novel will overthrow the constructs of morality they wish to transfuse in the heads of immature pupils because of the offenses committed by many of the novel ‘s character and of class the usage of the “ n-word ” . However Twain did non intend to overthrow the ethical motives taught in schools today, in fact his work was to set up them. Critics would observe that even towards the terminal of the journey down the Mississippi, Huck stills refers to Jim utilizing the ‘n-word ‘ . He says “ aˆ¦ and if you ‘d ‘a ‘ done it they ‘d ‘a ‘ learnt you there that people that acts as I ‘d been moving about that nigga goes directly to everlasting fire. ” ( Twain, 213 ) . These oppositions of the novel see the linguistic communication, but non the significance. In this quote Huck is debating what to make about Jim ‘s state of affairs ( the Duke and Dauphin sold him back into bondage ) . He chastises himself for being unsure of his class of actions because he knows what ethical motives society would learn him and that he should make everything in his power to continue those ethical motives. An advocator of the novel would state “ We smile at that inordinate attention, yet in point of fact Huckleberry Finn is so a insurgent bookaˆ¦ ” ( Trilling, 88 ) Trilling provinces that the critics are right, Huckleberry Finn is undeniably a insurgent book, but for the ethical motives of its ain clip period non the current 1. Huck ‘s actions are non immoral because he is prejudiced against Jim, they are immoral because he lacks the bias expected by society, and is hence willing to digest whatever society might believe of him in order to salvage Jim. When reading the fresh 1 must set Twain ‘s message in context: he is non talking straight to the reader of today but instead a reader life in a state where bondage had merely merely been abolished. If he could make so much as to convert them they had been incorrect to enslave people based upon the colour of their tegument that disclosure would be groundbreaking. His words were non meant to rekindle feelings of the yesteryear, they were meant as a measure towards a better hereafter.

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During the clip period in which Huckleberry Finn and Jim would hold lived there were many stereotypes about African American people. The recognized belief was that they were in all ways lesser people than their white opposite numbers. Again Twain flouts the common thoughts and continue his ain. When watching Jim grieve the loss of his place and household Huck thinks, “ He was believing about his married woman and his kids, off up yonder, and he was low and homesickaˆ¦ and I do believe he cared merely every bit much for his people as white folks does for theirs. ” ( Twain, 155 ) . Huck is sing Jim ‘s heartache over being separated from his household. He is able to see, in malice of what he has been taught, that Jim feels the same human emotions of unhappiness and solitariness that any white adult male would. This is a instead radical thought for Huck because he was taught that slaves were non people. His realisation is meant to bode what Twain believed the full state would someday come to see, as is seen in the fact that, “ Epic Poetry gives literary signifier to the national fate of the people for whom it is written. Huck Finn gives literary signifier to many facets of the national fate of the American People. ” ( Lane, 161 ) Huck realized that Jim had the emotions of a white adult male, though he was black and this realisation would turn into Huck ‘s apprehension that Jim deserved his freedom. Huck was merely a male child and saw this truth merely on a little graduated table, that Jim who had proven himself to be human deserved freedom but that that freedom would non widen to all slaves. Twain nevertheless meant to demo that black people were the same as white people, and that if Whites could look beyond their biass they would see what Huck saw. Jim ‘s quest for freedom, and Huck ‘s eventual determination to make whatever it took to assist him obtain it, foreshadow non merely the release of the slaves, which had occurred by the clip Twain wrote the novel, but the deeper apprehension that the difference between a black adult male and a white adult male did non run deeper than tegument. Beneath that thin bed of colour all are equal. But despite Twain ‘s personal beliefs about the equality of the races, the world of the clip was black.

Many people are offended by the rough world presented in the novel, but the racialist tones of the novel were merely that in the clip period Huck and Jim existed in: world. Couple may hold looked to the hereafter but he still had to cover with the facts of the present. Racism existed in American society ; it was in fact a cardinal component of the American life. It was a fact recognized by both white and black people that the tow were non equal, as is seen in Jim ‘s remark that “ ‘I would n’t believe nuffin, I ‘d take and break him over de head – digital audiotape is if he war n’t white. I would n’t ‘low no nigga to name me dat. ‘ ” ( Twain, 79 ) . Jim ‘s statement, in which he stresses that his reaction would be different depending on whether the wrongdoer was white or black, clearly shows the race dealingss during that clip period. He was a black adult male, and hence if he felt another black adult male had insulted him he would be free to demo his antipathy, but if it was a white adult male who had spoken against him he could make nil. There are those who see the favoritism in Twain ‘s novel as unsavory and thereby declare that it is non worthy of being read in schools. However it is of import to observe that “ Consequently, any narrative holding Missouri as its puting prior to 1865 had its scene in a slave province. Therefore, whatever history there is in Mark Twain ‘s novel about a rebellious adolescent is slave-time history. ” ( Barksdale, 121 ) . Yes, Jim ‘s statement shows the inferior position of inkinesss to Whites, and making so it maintains the pragmatism of the narrative. This does non reflect Twain ‘s personal sentiment of African American people, but instead shows the ugly truth that there was a clip in American history when black people were seen non merely by the people of the united provinces but by the jurisprudence every bit good, as belongings non people. It is besides of import to observe that Jim uses the word “ nigga ” to mention to another black individual. This is non because he is racist ; it is because in that clip there was no other word to utilize. Twain can non be faulted for composing the truth, but many of his critics are in demand of rebuke for seeking to conceal it. “ It is obvious that Twain ‘s novel about the opportunity meeting of two blowouts, one black and one white, is under onslaught today because many Americans, guilt ridden over the racial divisions that continue to blight our society, have trouble get bying with the historical fact of bondage. ” ( Barksdale, 123-124 ) Barksdale makes the point that people who claim to reject the book because they reject racism are in fact merely experiencing guilty about the past and intend to cover with their guilt by avoiding the topic. It is the ugly side of American history, but that does non intend that it can be forgotten. No 1 has the power to rewrite the past, but everyone has the power to alter the hereafter, and in order to make a good hereafter it is of import to larn from the errors of the yesteryear. The novel shows that bias is a error that can digest centuries if left unbridled. Those who would seek to hide the truth can happen their at hand failure foreshadowed in the novel.

On the river Huck and Jim are able to get away from world, which is what many people today would wish to make in respects to America ‘s yesteryear. They feel that they can disregard the subject of bondage and racism, and that that will be the solution to their jobs. Huck tried the same tactic unsuccessfully. Thinking about his quandary with Jim, Huck says “ Then I thought a minute and says to myself, keep on ; s’pose you ‘d ‘a ‘ done right and give Jim up, would you felt better than what you do now? No, says I, I ‘d experience badaˆ¦ ” ( Twain, 91 ) . This quotation mark shows Huck ‘s battle when seeking to make up one’s mind whether he would salvage Jim, or allow him be sold back into bondage. He knows that assisting Jim flight was and is against what his society wants him to make ; nevertheless, Huck came to see Jim as more than merely a slave, or even a comrade. He was a friend, and hence he could non bewray him and maintain a clean scruples. This shows one of many cases wherein “ No count how difficult Huck and Jim attempt to get away, the existent universe is ever pulling them back into it. ” ( Lane, 164 ) Jim is going down the river to get away from a universe in which he is a slave. Huck travels with him, and on the river he can disregard the fact that by assisting Jim flight he is interrupting the jurisprudence. But the existent universe catches up to them many times, and finally they can no longer out run it. When this happens Huck realizes that he has a pick to do, and he does non experience good about either of his options. He realizes that he would experience as bad about turning Jim in as he does about allowing him flight. Huck had to confront the world of the state of affairs because concealing on the river was merely a impermanent solution. The American society must make the same thing when turn toing the subject of racism in schools. It can be ignored, but that is non a solution to the job. It is of import to come to footings with world before doing a pick, and maintaining pupils ignorant of America ‘s history with racism they will besides maintain them from being able to understand and manage the racism that exists in society today. These facts squelch the statements of those who would reject the novel on the footing of racism, but there are other parts of the novel which are seen in a negative visible radiation.

It is argued that there are facets of Twain ‘s novel which immature readers would non understand, such as sarcasm, which would do it impossible for them to derive any penetration to the moral lesson of the narrative. Some suggest that there are other writers who succeeded where Twain failed, and the novel should be kept from the course of study non because it is violative but because there are better options available. When Huck and Jim reunite after the steamboat incident, Jim recounts the events of the few yearss they were separated. Of the Grangerford ‘s slaves, He says “ Dey ‘s mighty good to me, dese niggas isaˆ¦ ” ( Twain, 112 ) This simple statement by Jim has a much greater impact if the reader understands the sarcasm behind it. During the clip period depicted in the novel, Whites were seen as good and charitable whereas inkinesss would hold been seen as hostile and inhuman. These stereotypes as reversed when Huck and Jim come into contact with the Grangerfords, a affluent white household who meet Huck at gunpoint, and their slaves who take attention of Jim. Twain made a powerful statement about white America when he depicted black slaves as being kinder and more human than the Grangerfords who were white. This facet of the novel might non be appreciated by immature readers because they would non hold a complete apprehension of the stereotypes of the clip period, or because they had non yet developed their reading accomplishments to the point where they would pick up on such minor inside informations. However it is still good for younger pupil to read the novel because “ To read it immature is like seting a tree immature – each twelvemonth adds a new growth-ring of significance, and the book is every bit small likely as a tree to go dull. ” ( Trilling 83 ) Those critics who would non hold immature readers pick up the novel because they might non bring out the many beds of sarcasm fail to see is that it is non necessary that the reader understand everything the first clip the read a novel. Young pupils would be puting a foundation upon which they could finally construct a greater apprehension of the novel. And the apprehension of America ‘s history that Twain gives his reader can non be replaced by any other novel.

Not all critics oppose including the novel in the school course of study because of the subject of racism. In fact there are some who believe that Twain did non travel deep plenty into the hazards of bondage in America. These critics feel that Twain was excessively focused on the escapade instead than Jim ‘s state of affairs for the novel to show a important statement against bondage in America. Such a critic would be Jane Smiley who said, “ I would instead my kids read Uncle Tom ‘s Cabin, even though it is far more graphic in its word picture of inhuman treatment than Huck Finn because Stowe ‘s novel is clearly and unmistakably a calamity. ” ( Smiley, 67 ) . She argues that it would be better to learn a novel such as Uncle Tom ‘s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe because unlike Huck Finn the novel is written to clearly expose the inhuman treatment shown towards slaves. In her head Jim was pushed to the background at the exact minute when Couple should hold taken a base. However she overlooks the statements Twain did do through Huck, such as when he says “ I knowed he was white indoors, and I reckoned he ‘s state what he said – so it was alright now and I told Tom I was a-going for the physician ” ( Twain, 276 ) . In this testimony Huck expresses his alleviation and gratitude towards Jim, who had agreed with him that it was necessary to acquire the physician to assist Tom ‘s leg. Huck had anticipated that Jim would take a firm stand on a physician because that is what a white grownup would make and Huck had come to see that Jim had the ability to believe and see ground the manner white grownups did. Twain did observe the inhuman treatments of bondage when he depicts the hapless intervention Jim received from the Duke and Dauphin, every bit good as the original menace Jim faced of being sold away from his bondage. He shows that slaves were used for their proprietors good being with small concern for their ain wants and demands, but the novel does something for more of import. Some would state that “ aˆ¦ his comment that ‘it does n’t look natural that he should be, ‘ is deserving, artistically at least, non merely all of Uncle Tom ‘s Cabin but besides the complete principal of recent novels about bias. ” ( Wood Krutch, 138-139 ) . Wood references another point in the novel, when Jim is anguished by his separation from his household, in which Huck recognizes that Jim has the emotions and values of any other human being, irrespective of race. Twain did non do Jim ‘s narrative a calamity because his end was non to do white people commiseration slaves, which is what a fresh dramatising the victimization of slaves would make. Yes, they were victims, but Twain did non desire people to feel for them, he wanted them to understand what was incorrect with the establishment of bondage. It was his end to present the reader to a slave, and so do them understand that that slave was non any different than a white individual. That understanding would assist with to job of race dealingss because people could come to esteem each other instead than feel foring each other, and that regard would travel along manner to bettering the lives of all.

Americans have a glorious history, but the good has ever been shadowed by the bad. Bloody wars have been fought on our dirt, and even in times of peace non all were free. Slavery, racism, segregation, these are ugly words but they are a portion of history. Mark Twain ‘s novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an history of this history which many cull because he shows the truth of the foundations of American society, his Hagiographas are non adulterated by clip or distance because he did non merely compose what he thought, he wrote what he lived. His fresh represents non merely the birth of American literature ; it represents the beginning of a passage in American history. The state would alter from one which preached freedom and equality to one in which those ideals were world. And if truth be told, over one hundred old ages subsequently American society is still doing the alteration. Racism persists despite the greatest attempts to destruct it. This may be portion of the ground that people would conceal the yesteryear, because accepting that it happened would take to accepting that it is go oning. But in reading Twain ‘s novel, the following coevals would see how far America has come, and recognize that it is their occupation to complete what people like Mark Twain started.


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