Free Essay On Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Huckleberry Finn, Slavery, Literature, Time, History, Culture, Racism, Public

Pages: 1

Words: 275

Published: 2020/10/09

1. Huckleberry Finn was set in the antebellum years approximately fifty years prior to its publication in 1885. It was written during an epoch in which slavery had been outlawed, yet racism was still a defining feature in American culture and society. Indeed, Jim Crow laws were in full effect, and de facto slavery was a reality for the freed slaves as a result of debt peonage and their inability to become economically self-sufficient. Minstrel shows, or black face, were cultural manifestations that reified the existence of de facto slavery. Reconstruction had failed to facilitate the transition from slavery to freedom for black Americans. As a result, the 1880s witnessed an escalation of mob violence towards blacks, an increase in public lynchings in order to intimidate blacks who sought to exercise their political and economic agency. Negative stereotypes of African Americans still permeated public discourses, as African Americans were viewed as infantile and illiterate in order to justify the need for slavery to return. Moreover, they were demonized as a threat to the purity of the white rape, as the myth of the black rapist circulated public discourses as well. Black men were viewed as lustful and libidinous, as they were unable to curtail their sexual urges. During this time period, the industrial revolution was burgeoning, which resulted in a bifurcated society in which the chasm between the rich and the poor widened exponentially.
2 . It is unequivocal that Twain viewed slavery as inherently wrong and morally debase and that white America owed freed slaves reparations. Indeed, Huckleberry Finn conveys an overtly anti-racist message to the audience, which was unconventional during the time in which it was written. Realism and regionalism were the artistic and literary movements that were taking place during this time period. These movement combated transcendentalism and romanticism and reoriented art and literature towards more pragmatic and realistic approach. These movements stressed the moral duty to depict the world realistically and honestly without sanitizing or distorting it. The use of dialect in Huckleberry Finn, the overtly racist and derogatory language deployed, and the ugly scenes of racial violence and prejudices suggest that this portrayal of antebellum life was influenced by the hegemonic literary movements going on.
3. Access to historical information is important to an extent because novels and other forms of literature are cultural artifacts that are very revealing about the time period in which it was written. To view Huckleberry Finn or Tom Sawyer through an ahistorical lens detracts from its social and cultural currency as well as its didactic function in the modern day. Moreover, context helps make sense of why Twain depicted character interactions in the way that he did. Using words such as “nigger” in modern contexts is offensive and pejorative, so modern audiences would be shocked if they were not aware of historical contingencies and historical influences that shaped Twain’s narrative(s).
4. This website was written from the perspective of a high school teacher who explained how and why he taught this novel in the fashion that he did and the demographics of the students he taught. Ultimately, this site addresses the importance of placing the novel in its cultural and historical context in order to address the concerns articulated by parents of students who worry that their children will be adversely influenced by the use of pejorative terms and language as well as the overt racism it depicts.

Works Cited

"Mark Twain in His Times." Web. 23 Jan. 2015. <>.
"Sources & Pre-Texts for Huck Finn." Sources & Pre-Texts for Huck Finn. Web. 23 Jan. 2015. <
Twain, Mark. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1999. Print.

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"Free Essay On Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn," Free Essay Examples -, 09-Oct-2020. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 14-Jul-2024].
Free Essay On Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. Free Essay Examples - Published Oct 09, 2020. Accessed July 14, 2024.

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