The Fear of Equality in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a Novel by Mark Twain

People have always been judgemental. There was the prejudice views of jews in medieval times, as well as the preconceived notion that all Muslims are terrible people. In Huckleberry Finn, the major example of judgemental people is shown when people talk about humans who are different or do not share their views. Throughout the book, there were many examples of white folk thinking poorly about all slaves without knowing really “knowing” any. Without really knowing someone, how can someone base a judgement about the whole group of people one might ask.

The reason for this is simple:the characters in the novel are afraid of equality among everyone in society.

One example of people fearing equality is when people talk critically about slaves in normal speech. In the book, it would be normal for someone to say something extremely rude about slaves in normal conversation with someone, and the other person not be taken aback by the comments. An example of this would be when Huck first talked to Aunt Sally on the Phelps Farm.

When Huck said that a cylinder head had blown on the steamboat over, and Aunt Sally asked if anyone had been hurt, Huck replied with “No’m.Killed a nigger”, with which Aunt Sally replied “Well it’s lucky;because sometimes people do get hurt” (Twain 197). Aunt Sally rated slaves so low, that she does not even think of them as people. This is not surprising, as at this time, slavery was common.

Since slavery was common, the people of the time had grown up with the thought of slaves as lesser than them, and why should they not? They owned them as property.

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Would people think of a candle as more than property? This kind of thought was even shown by Huck after he had been with Jim for his whole escaped life. Huck started to feel guilty about stealing Jim because it was Miss Watson’s property, even though Jim had never done any wrong to Huck.

Perhaps the people were fearful of black people having similar power with them. Maybe the reason that they were trying to push blacks down was because they thought that if they had the same power that the whites had, they would use it to push down the whites, just as they had been pushed down. This is shown prominently when Pap was talking about the black man in town that could vote. When Pap says, “And that ain’t the wust. They said he could vote when he was at home. Well that let me out. Thinks I, what is the country a-coming to” (Twain 24). Pap is angry at the fact that a black man can vote because he feels threatened, fearful that if blacks could vote, then maybe someday they could run for office, and then they would issue restrictions on the whites, just as the whites had put restrictions on the blacks.

People were also fearful of equality because they felt that with equality for everyone, the whole country would turn into a nation of ruin. Advocators of slavery often said that if all slaves were made free, then there would be mass unemployment and mob uprisings, killing many. Slave owners even felt that they were doing a good thing by having slaves, as they thought that without them taking care of the slaves, they would die of starvation or lead a worse life than if they were under their care. This is shown when Uncle Silas and Aunt Sally often go and pray with Jim in his cabin, as they think what they are doing is what God would want.

People were not just judgemental towards slaves though. In the book, there were examples of two white families being judgemental towards each other. The two families were the Shepherdsons and the Grangerfords. In the time that the two families were in the book, there only thoughts it seemed were hateful ones directed at each other. Their mutual hate for each other started because of a lawsuit that happened between them, but the reason that they have stayed mad at each other for so long is directly what was stated earlier, that they are afraid of equality among themselves. The two families had such disdain towards each other that they thought that there was no way that a family as vile as the other could be even near equal to themselves.

With all the judgement going on in the book, one has to wonder where it starts from. No one loves someone one day and then hates them the next. It is not good enough to just say that the people are hateful because that is how they were raised. The question that has to be answered is why were they raised like this. This mindset had been going on for centuries, and there had to be a reason. This reason was that people were scared of being on equal terms with someone they despised. And while there are still people with this mindset today, it is a lot less than it had been just 50 years ago. And why? Because as more people are getting equal rights with not many consequences, people are seeing that equality is not so bad after all.

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The Fear of Equality in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a Novel by Mark Twain. (2023, Feb 13). Retrieved from

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