A Misunderstood Message. Question: Was mark twain a racist?

Essay by mkubik51High School, 10th gradeA+, August 2014

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A Misunderstood Message

Mackenzie Kubik

Arrowhead High School

Experts believe that during the century preceding the abolishment of slavery in America, over 8,000,000 slaves were imported from Africa alone (Randall, 1998)! After being published in the 1800's, the years during which slavery was at it's peak, Mark Twain's classic novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been a constant topic of debate. Although many believe that this text drew attention to the horrors of slavery, many have also drawn the conclusion that the book and its author are a racist pair; they have decided to criticize the work internationally, ban it's teaching in many public schools, and bowdlerize the text. However, these accusations are only opinions. Mark Twain is not racist because he directs a majority of his satire at Whites, he writes Huck to be a loyal companion to Jim, and he portrays Jim positively throughout the novel.

Mark Twain cannot be considered racist towards Blacks, for almost all of his satire and mockery in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is directed at White characters. One of the most iron episodes of the novel is the feud between the Grangerfords and the Shepherdsons. "Next Sunday we all went to church, about three mile, everybody a-horseback. The men took their guns along, so did Buck, and kept them between their knees or stood them handy against the wall. The Shepherdsons done the same. It was pretty ornery preaching- all about brotherly love, and such like tiresomeness (Twain, 1985, p.121)." While Huck describes the irony occurring at the church, Twain mocks the religious hypocrisy of Southern White culture by alluding to and insulting the fact that the South is so devoted to their religion, yet...