Race Problems of the U.S.A. in Literature
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The U.S.A. is a country that rifes with nationalities. Race problem was always an acute one here, and is in issue. It is the centuries-old history of American society that can cast light on the racial controversy, and many literary works disclose the theme of racism. Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is a vivid example of such kind of works. The theme of racism and slavery, and different nationalities are touched upon in his novel by Twain.
Nevertheless, Twain wrote his novel after the Proclamation of Emancipation and the end of the Civil War (1861-1865), America including the South was still enduring the aftereffects of racism the remnants of which were still in the minds of people. Next till the beginning of 1880, Reconstruction, the plan unite the United States of America when the war was over and include newly freed slaves into community, met some obstacles on its way, although, it was early to surrender. Despite all these facts, the putting of a ban on Jim Crow laws, was aimed at restricting the freedoms of black in the South in a specific way and gave rise to new unapparent method of suppression. A new way of Southern racism, not so apparently official and integral and monolithic, was complicated to straggle. Although, the Slavery became outlawed, in case white inhabitants of South established racialist laws and justified it skillfully and defended themselves from black people, some Northern and Southern people considered the act as inhumane and darted at fighting against it.
Afro-American race is meant to be “subhuman”, “inferior” by a human society many centuries long. White Americans considered blacks as “three fifth” of a man, regarding themselves a “whole human” at the same time. It is not fair. Moreover, the other nationalities were the objects of humiliation and derogation as well.
In Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” the author depicts a true picture of antebellum society while slavery was actively and effectively practiced, nevertheless, it was on the edge of its abolishment. Some elements of white Americans’ have arrogant and scornful attitude towards the blacks and even the other nationalities remained unchangeable components of their warped mindset for centuries.
As Mark Twain exposes the theme of racial discrimination in his novel, it is comfortable to use it as a primary source for the research.
The story takes place in the Mississippi River Town and revolves around some other locations. The protagonist of the novel is Huckleberry Finn who gained a lot of money and resists worlds’ endeavors to make him civilized person, though he became more or less cultured towards the end of the story. It is possible to observe the path of his development and changing his mind from the narrow-minded thinking cultivated in him by other racist people to the genuine open-hearted attitude towards black people and other races that differ from his race.
A suitable representative of the black race is Jim, a black who fled from slavery. Certain circumstances brought him and Huck together. Initially Huck pondered over the wisdom of helping Jim. He was at the crossroads of accepting the right decision whether to save the man or to turn him in, after all his good-heartedness has played a vital role in the taking of the right decision. Besides, both comrades became good friends after all nevertheless, the teen rich legatee in the person of Huck made pranks and mocked at Jim and even had displayed arrogance against Jim before.
The derogation against other nationalities can be traced in Twain’s novel as well. One can recall in the memory the scene in the chapter 14 where Jim and Huck disputed about whether a Frenchman was a cat or a cow. Huckleberry stated that he was either of the animals in case it was “natural and right for cat and cow” (Twain). The Negro refuted Huck’s point of view, asking whether two sorts of men are animals. Having nothing to rejoin Huck added that “you cannot learn a nigger to argue” (Twain). Jim frequently used the word “man” concerning Frenchmen in the process of arguing and it outlines his humane treatment of people. The Negro also opposed to Huck’s father, who being white instead of helping, kidnapped his son in his attempt to seize Huckleberry’s money. Pap was a drunkard, swindler, who was often noticed initiating brawls with the black people: “Next day he was drunk, and he went to Judge Thatcher's and bullyragged him, and tried to make him give up the money; but he couldn't, and then he swore he'd make the law force him” (Twain). This citation displays how immoral was the white man in comparison to a black, kind-hearted but oppressed Jim.
Jim was a vivid representative of kindness and valor in man though he was a black.
Twain displayed in Huckleberry Finn, the ways racism has influenced both the oppressors and the oppressed people. It resulted in the confusion of morality, where white Americans like Miss Watson or Sally Phelps seemed to be “good” though they were all one to the unfairness of slavery or the atrocity of parting Huck’s black friend and his family.
Twain tries to influence his audience with such linguistic tools, as using different variants of English, some local dialects in a mocking, ironic, and contemplative tone of voice at times. Here is an example of black dialect where gullible Jim says: “I doan’ hanker for no mo’ un um, Huck. Dese is all I kin stan’” (Twain).
As for the slave owners, not all of them were so bad e.g. Miss Watson made a clear difference between Afro Americans and non Afro Americans, although the Wilks, or the Wisdom Watson, and the Phelps all revealed their good nature and sincerity of great power.
In conclusion, American race problems concerning blacks but revealing also in scorning of other nationalities as well, e.g. Frenchmen, were hot pre-war and even after-war issues.
The assertion about all white people including slave owners being innate evil is a folly. Many of white people felt sympathy for Negroes; however, mostly deranged minds of people could not overcome the racial inequity ideas even centuries after the abolition of racial discrimination. And that is a topic for regret.
Twain’s attitude towards slavery and racism was scornful and contemptuous. His hero, Huckleberry Finn, changed during the development of the story, became more open to new ideas and appeared to realize the social and moral hypocrisy of society.