And I about made up my mind to pray, and see if I couldn't try to quit being the kind of a boy I was and be better. So I kneeled down. But the words wouldn't come.
Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work. Racism and Slavery Although Twain wrote Huckleberry Finn two decades after the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil War, America—and especially the South—was still struggling with racism and the aftereffects of slavery.
By the early s, Reconstruction, the plan to put the United States back together after the war and integrate freed slaves into society, had hit shaky ground, although it had not yet failed outright.
As Twain worked on his novel, race relations, which seemed to be on a positive path in the years following the Civil War, once again became strained.
The imposition of Jim Crow laws, designed to limit the power of blacks in the South in a variety of indirect ways, brought the beginning of a new, insidious effort to oppress. The new racism of the South, less institutionalized and monolithic, was also more difficult to combat.
Slavery could be outlawed, but when white Southerners enacted racist laws or policies under a professed motive of self-defense against newly freed blacks, far fewer people, Northern or Southern, saw the act as immoral and rushed to combat it.
Although Twain wrote the novel after slavery was abolished, he set it several decades earlier, when slavery was still a fact of life. Just as slavery places the noble and moral Jim under the control of white society, no matter how degraded that white society may be, so too did the insidious racism that arose near the end of Reconstruction oppress black men for illogical and hypocritical reasons.
In Huckleberry Finn, Twain, by exposing the hypocrisy of slavery, demonstrates how racism distorts the oppressors as much as it does those who are oppressed. As a poor, uneducated boy, for all intents and purposes an orphan, Huck distrusts the morals and precepts of the society that treats him as an outcast and fails to protect him from abuse.
This apprehension about society, and his growing relationship with Jim, lead Huck to question many of the teachings that he has received, especially regarding race and slavery. Huck bases these decisions on his experiences, his own sense of logic, and what his developing conscience tells him.
Through deep introspection, he comes to his own conclusions, unaffected by the accepted—and often hypocritical—rules and values of Southern culture. His moral development is sharply contrasted to the character of Tom Sawyer, who is influenced by a bizarre mix of adventure novels and Sunday-school teachings, which he combines to justify his outrageous and potentially harmful escapades.
Throughout the novel, Twain depicts the society that surrounds Huck as little more than a collection of degraded rules and precepts that defy logic. This faulty logic appears early in the novel, when the new judge in town allows Pap to keep custody of Huck. Again and again, Huck encounters individuals who seem good—Sally Phelps, for example—but who Twain takes care to show are prejudiced slave-owners.The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by: Mark Twain Mark Twain’s novel condemning the institutionalized racism of the pre-Civil War South is among the most celebrated works of .
Shmoop breaks down key quotations from Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Race Quotes here was a free nigger there from Ohio—a mulatter, most as white as a white man.
A summary of Themes in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Learn exactly what happened in this chapter, scene, or section of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and what it means. Racism and Slavery. Every Book on Your English Syllabus Summed Up in a Quote from The Office.
Teaching Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn slavery and freedom. It is a book that puts on the table the very questions the culture so often tries to bury, a book that opens out into. Mark Twain's novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (), is the famous tale of Huckleberry Finn, who journeys down the Mississippi River with an escaped slave, Jim.
The wit and wisdom of Mark Twain shines through in this novel. Here are a few famous quotations from the novel. Racism and Slavery Although Twain wrote Huckleberry Finn two decades after the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil War, America—and especially the South—was still struggling with racism and the aftereffects of slavery.