Many schools around the world are banning The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn because it considered as racist. It is very controversial because Mark Twain uses the word “Niger” exactly 219 times. Some people find the use of the word racist: Some find it as capturing the setting of the book. If Mark Twain was being racist, he would not have a main character be helping a black man to freedom.
Because of this, I will sake a stand, based off the evidence in the reading, that he is simply catching the history of that period.
Three points of evidence is the three main characters: Houck, Jim, and Tom. And how the first encounters may make them seem racist, but later in the book it shows there changing mindset of the slavery situation. Huckleberry Finn, the main character of the book, indeed at first seemed racist. Houck and Tom, at the beginning of the book, tied Jim to a tree when he fell asleep.
But later, he had a change of heart many times.
First, when Jim and Houck were on the aft, two slave hunters wanted to check the raft for runaway slaves. Right then and there Houck could have turned Jim in, but instead made up a story that the raft had his small pox infected dad. This shows that Houck has courage and actually cares for Jim. He was already feeling guilty about taking own slave to freedom and still decided to save Jim. Second, when Jim and Houck get separated from each other in the fog in chapter 15.
Huckleberry tries to fool Jim into thinking that Jim was only dreaming that they got separated, which made Jim very upset with Houck and tells IM, “…
I could ‘a’ got down on my knees en kiss p foot, Xi’s so thankful. En all you wiz thinking’ ’bout wiz how you could make a fool iv ole Jim wide a lie. Data truck dad is trash; en trash is what people is data puts dirt on De head re dye Freon’s en makes ‘me ashamed. ” (Twain 91) It makes Houck question himself and makes him feel like a very bad person. Finally, when the Duke and Dauphin sold Jim too family, Houck was actually going to send Mrs.. Watson saying “Miss Watson, your runaway Niger Jim is down here two-mile below Viselike, and Mr. Phelps has got him and he will give him up for the reward if you send. ” (Twain 204)
But he instead decided he was going to save Jim anyways. And since its considered a sin to steal a black man and help him to freedom, he says “All right, then, I’ll go to hell. ” (Twain 205) He then tore up the note and went to find Jim. For these reasons, I believe Houck overall realized he doesn’t care about what society thinks about what is right and what is wrong in slavery, and that he cares about Jim, making up his mind that he is going to save him.
Jim, being the slave in this book, shows that he is like everybody else. Firstly, when Houck and Jim got lost in the fog and Houck played that nasty trick on Jim. Jim made Houck feel so bad about it that Houck eventually said, “It was 15 minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a Niger; but I done it, and warrant even sorry for it afterward. ” (Twain 91) This made Houck really think about the way he treats Jim and that he is not Just a slave but a human being. Secondly, when Houck and Jim were on the raft with the Duke and Dauphin.
Jim was telling Houck all about owe much he missed his family and about how bad he felt that the last thing he did to his daughter was hit her because she was deaf and he didn’t know. This made Houck really think that “l do believe he cared Just as much for his people as white folk does for their n. ” (Twain 152) Finally, every time Houck and Jim got separated from each other, Jim would get so upset to the point of crying. And when Houck came back, Jim would be so happy to hug him. With these reasons, I really believe Jim helped Houck break down the rest of the walls of racism between them.
Tom is a delinquent and causes trouble wherever he goes. But when it comes to racism, he didn’t care about what society thinks. First of all, when Jim got sold to Tom’s family, Houck asked Tom if he would help save Jim. Without hesitation Tom exclaimed “I’ll help you steal him! ” (Twain 216) Secondly, Tom may come off being a tough guy who walks hard and is better off with his gang friends,”Only robbery and murder,” (Twain 20) but eventually he shows a lighter side to himself and opens up his mind to the thought of saving a slave.
Also, there is the thought that Tom may Just e the fill-in for the emptiness that Houck feels in his life, being that the people in his life come and go so much. I believe Tom, at first, comes off as a bad guy because of his gang and bad influence. But, he is really a good guy that is always willing to help a friend no matter what it is. Overall, I believe that Twain was not being racist. He was simply trying to both write a story to educate people of the life of slavery, and write an entertaining, good read about a boy who goes through the perils of saving both a slave, and a friend.
The word “Niger” is very controversial in today’s society because of the way people use it. Many people today use the word as a slang term to describe a person who is either black or Just foolish in the mind. Some people may find the use of the word “Niger,” 219 times in a book, very unacceptable. Where to me, I find the terms both educational and powerful. The word “Niger” I believe is actually an educational word and could also be considered racist depending upon how it is used, in modern times at least. But if used in an educational standpoint, like in Huckleberry Finn, it should be allowed.