Theme of Slavery in Huckleberry Finn

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Slavery has and always will be the fuel for hatred and racial intolerance in America. “The adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain was written in a time when slavery was evolving; triggering racial context in the novel. Because of this, Twain felt destined to reflect on menacing cultural undertones that white Americans saw as acceptable. The influence of the Civil War and reconstruction period put into perspective how Twain could paint the picture of racism. In this novel, Twain exposes the deception of slavery and demonstrates how racism distorted the oppressors as much as it does those who are oppressed.

Racism; being a principal theme in Huckleberry Finn and is represented throughout the entire novel. Jim, an escaped slave is discriminated against whites and has a difficult journey to freedom because of it. Many characters themselves are slaveholders; for they are in a major slave state. Even Huck was influenced by the racial slurs until knowing Jim, who was a slave. A quote said by Huckleberry Finn illustrated the reality of slavery. “When I waked up just at daybreak he was sitting there with his head down between his knees, moaning and mourning to himself. I didn’t take notice nor let on. I knowed what it was about. He was thinking about his wife and children, away up yonder, and he was low and homesick; because he hadn’t ever been away from home in his life; and I do believe he cared and I do believe he cared just as much got his people as white folks foes for their’n. It don’t seem natural, but I reckon it’s so” (Twain 241). The result was a world of moral confusion in which seemly “good” white people express no concern about the injustice and cruelty of separating Jim from his family.”

“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is number 14 on the “American Library Association” list of most frequently banned books; although it remained a staple in high school literature studies. The reason being is that it provokes great discussion and question in specific regards to racism and slavery. We see a lot of racial bias in his depiction which is why this book is so controversial to study. Huck Finn was in fact detached from a library in 1885 after it was just released in the United States.

Since Mark Twain’s childhood years, he has developed a strong view against slavery. Every summer, one of his closest friends was a slave called “Uncle Dan”, who would tell Twain and his cousin’s’ ghost stories and spirituals that touched Twain personally. He saw the sadness slavery caused, as his most lasting childhood memory was watching men and women chained up, getting ready to be shipped down the river, and he described the slaves having “the saddest faces I’ve ever seen.”(Burns) That was Twain’s first experience with slavery. After Twain got married, he would move back and forth with his family. He met an ex-slave, Mary Ann Cord, that inspired him. She lost her family through slavery, her husband and all seven of her children, all separated to different places.(Burns) These experiences with slavery inspired Twain to write about how much slavery can hurt families and spread hatred.

Although Twain wrote “Huckleberry Finn” two decades after the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil War, America in the South was still struggling. Even today people of color in the United States suffer from the effects’ slavery has had on the country. Many people of color have been discriminated against, and are having trouble getting a strong chance at achieving the American dream. Now more than ever, race is a strong cause of violence, hatred, and suffering in America, all rooting back to our history with slavery. Slavery is a primary point in Huckleberry Finn, and remains an important topic in the world; how it changed America, how it influenced culture in the present, and the lessons it taught us.

Works Cited

  1. Errington, Ryan. the-artifice.com. N.p., 24 Sep. 2015. Web. 14 Jun. 2018.

Cite this paper

Theme of Slavery in Huckleberry Finn. (2021, Jun 28). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/theme-of-slavery-in-huckleberry-finn/

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