Second Huck Finn Post: Racism or Friendship

Huck Finn has a history of being one of the controversial and challenged book in America. “the main criticism is Twain’s treatment of the theme of race and his use of racial slurs in reference to African Americans, Native Americans, and poor white Americans.”  In 2009, in midst of the presidential race a man by the name of John Foley, who was a high school teacher, wrote a guest column for a local newspaper in Seattle. He stated that books to the likes of “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Of mice and men” should no longer hold a place in high school curriculum. Mr. Foley also stated that ““Barack Obama is president-elect of the United States, and novels that use the ‘N-word’ repeatedly need to go.”

jim real

When it comes to Jim, Huck has a sort of metaphorical blindfold on. The blindfold, which can we seen as society, blinds Huck from seeing Jim as an equal. But, the blindfold doesn’t cover everything, and Huck can see a little between what is right and what society wants him to believe is right. Because Huck can see through the “blindfold” slightly he is able to gain attachment to Jim: ” ‘Sold him? I says and begun to cry;” (248)  It is the next line that shows how the blindfold does blind Huck to some things ” ‘Why he was my nigger’ ” (248) This line can be interpreted as Huck seeing Jim as property. But if diving deeper into the emotion that is layered within the text, one can see that Huck is crying, which shows an expression of sadness at the fact he has lost his friend. Personally, I believe Huck is morning the loss of Jim. “Why he was my nigger” can translate to “he was my friend.” 

huck and jim

In my opinion, I believe that this book should still be a great classroom tool to show what was acceptable and what want. But I also think that historical empathy is necessary to posses while reading this “classic”. The truth is that Huck only refers to  Jim like that because it was a part of the time period. Layered within what is seen as racism now, is true friendship.


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