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Mark Twain's View of Slavery and Racism

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on 11 February 2014

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Transcript of Mark Twain's View of Slavery and Racism

Mark Twain's View of Slavery and Racism
Main Ideas
Huck's View of Slavery- shows a contemporary view
Twain's View of Racism- what Twain thought about race
Consequences of the end of slavery-situation at the time
Twain's View of Slavery-how Mark Twain views the idea of slavery,
Huck's View of Slavery
In the beginning of the story, Huck has no problem with the concept of slavery.
However, his view of slavery and racism changes as his adventure down the river progresses.

Twain's View of Racism
The Consequences of the End of Slavery
The 13th Amendment in 1865, formally abolishing slavery was ratified.
Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866
This gave more rights to everyone born in the United States
In the South, "Black Codes" were established; these allowed acts of subjugation against blacks.
Congress passed the 14th Amendment in 1868 to undermine the racist Black Codes and passed another Civil Rights Act in 1875.
But this Act was eliminated as the Supreme Court said the federal government had not power to threaten private racial discrimination.
Mark Twain was very anti-racist.
As a boy growing up in the southern United States during the 1840s he was constantly exposed to slavery and witnessed several murders in his hometown of Hannibal, Missouri.
This had a long-lasting effect on young Sam Clemens, who couldn’t understand how men justified killing just because they were white and their victims were black.
Mark Twain believed that all races are equal
Twain's View of Racism
Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn (set in the early 1840s) was published in 1884, 20 years after slavery was officially outlawed in the United States.
Story satirizes racism, shows society that even though slavery is over, racism is still very prevalent .
Mark Twain uses his characters to convey the fact that racism at the time is so commonplace and so accepted
Congress passed the 15th Amendment, giving African American men the right to vote.
African Americans had new rights and opportunities by the late 1870s, but this did not last.
Racist groups like the Ku Klux Clan soon developed
They terrorized African Americans, by lynching
This prevented blacks from using their rights and the Union troops were no longer in the South, so could not enforce the 14th and 15th Amendments
These acts of racism led to the racist and segregationalist rules that approved Jim Crow Laws, which separated black and white society.
The Consequences of the End of Slavery
We first see Huck's view of slavery change when he has Jim's back when the cops are coming for him.
After that we see a major shift in his view of black men when he has to apologize to Jim after he tried to deceive Jim.
Finally, we see that Huck no longer sees Jim as just a black slave but as a friend when he declares that he would go to hell for his friend Jim.
lim┬(time-> end)⁡〖 (slavery (time))=0〗
He used satire to counteract slavery. In Huck Finn, Aunt Sally learns of a steamboat explosion.
When she asks if anyone died, someone replies “no just a slave” (234-235).
Aunt Sally goes about her day, happy that no one of importance perished in the explosion. He wants his readers, who he knows will be predominantly white, to recognize that nice Aunt Sally couldn’t care less if a slave died.
Characters such as Aunt Sally and Widow Douglas are so subtly racist that it is surprising. These two characters are too nice and religious to harbor an intense hatred for anyone.
Mark Twain's View on Slavery
Mark Twain’s views slavery in a negative light.
Twain's views on slavery are affected by his own transitions in life
Twain's family were slave owners but he grew up to be a defender of slave freedom
A southern man with northern views
His ideas about slavery are exemplified through the character Huck and his views of slavery
This idea is specifically seen when Huck in Mark Twain’s novel decided to help Jim escape from slavery once again instead of writing to Jim’s owner who would have once again separated Jim from his family.
He believes slavery distorts both the slaves (the oppressed) as well as the owners (the oppressors). This is clearly portrayed through characters such as Miss Watson and Jim who both have morals.
Jim moral values such as his nobility are compromised because slavery has removed him from his family.
While Miss Watson’s morals are distorted by slavery because she shows no concern for separating Jim from his family.
Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Penguin Classics, 1985. Print.
Kennedy, David. The American Pageant. 14th Ed. Penguin Classics, 1985. Print.
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