Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn as Anti Racist Novel

Fahmi Salim Hameed


Mark Twain, the American author and satirist well known for his novels Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, grew up in Missouri, which is a slave state and which later provided the setting for a couple of his novels. Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn are the two most well-known characters among American readers that Mark Twain created. As a matter of fact, they are the most renowned pair in all of American literature. Twain’s father worked as a judge by profession, but he also worked in slave-trade sometimes. His uncle, John Quarles, owned 20 slaves; so from quite an early age, Twain grew up witnessing the practice of slave-trade whenever he spent summer vacations at his uncle's house. Many of his readers and critics have argued on his being a racist. Some call him an “Unexcusebale racist” and some say that Twain is no where even close to being a racist. Growing up in the times of slave trade, Twain had witnessed a lot of brutality and violence towards the African slaves. This had often disturbed him as he wrote in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Mark Twain wrote: "The blunting effects of slavery upon the slaveholder's moral perceptions are known and conceded the world over; and a privileged class, an aristocracy, is but a band of slaveholders under another name.(1)”  However, in his novel, one can see the use of words such as “Nigger” and the way the black man was treated by people also puts Twain in the box of suspicion. Many critics think that he was just a writer who wrote such ideas for fun and they were not his personal ideas, but the idea of Mark Twain being a Racist or not is still a matter of controversy. This is one of the major reasons why Twain’s novels have to be analyzed thoroughly. Whether Twain is a racist or not, this paper is an attempt to answer this question by presenting examples from one of his famous novels Huckleberry Finn through analysis of discourse and characters.

Keywords: Racist, African American, Twain, Huck, anti-racist

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