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And then, on the river, on the raft with Jim, shucking off that blind ignorance because [he learns] this runaway slave is the most honest, perceptive, fair minded man this white boy has ever known. in Henry) Another important instance in which Twain illustrates the offhandedly racist attitudes of the characters in the novel occurs when Huck learns that Jim has been sold to the owner of the Phelps Farm.Upon his arrival on the property, Huck lies to Sally Phelps about a steamboat cylinder- head explosion that hurt no one but “killed a nigger,” to which Aunt Sally responds with relief, “Well, it’s lucky; because sometimes people do get hurt” (Twain 213).
Hypocrisy and religion again play a role in the criticism of this particular custom, as most of the slaveholding characters in the novel are otherwise portrayed as “good Christians.
Through the description of such customs, Twain succeeds in using irony to satirize the society’s complacency with the existing state of affairs.
Despite all of Huck’s development up to this point, his newfound tolerance is essentially reversed once Tom Sawyer returns.
At this point, Huck again becomes a mere follower of Tom’s ideas, and he simply goes along with Tom’s blatantly impractical and subtly racist viewpoints at the expense of Jim’s freedom and overall wellbeing.
Far from being an expression of Twain’s own apathetic views on casual racism, Twain’s portrayals of such indifferent attitudes, instead, intend to shock the reader and compel him or her to question the mindset of the characters in the novel and take a step back in order to realize the flaws in these characters’ reasoning.
The final way in which the novel satirically portrays racism in the antebellum South is through Twain’s depictions of characters’ beliefs in white supremacy and African-American stereotypes. ” rages Pap about the supposed injustice of a government that legally allows a Black man to vote in a northern free state (Twain 27).
However, the portrayal of racism in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, though it has not gone uncontested by critics and readers alike, is one that should not simply be disregarded as an insensitive depiction of antebellum race relations.
In fact, under the guise of a boy’s adventure story, Twain’s satirical account of the pre-Civil War South, through which he also satirizes the Southern mentality that persisted long after the Confederacy’s surrender in 1865, succeeds in making several very strong statements about the race relations that existed, and even continue to exist, in society.
Despite the arguments of critics who claim that such a nonchalant display of racism on both Sally’s and Huck’s part is one that, once again, displays Twain’s own indifference when it comes to racist outlooks and attitudes, it continues to be unquestionable that the opposite is true.
By describing such unemotional displays of racial prejudice, Twain seeks to convey that racism is something so deeply rooted in the Southern society in which the story is set that the characters simply do not realize its insulting immorality.