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Appearances Can Be Deceiving

"The book takes special note of ways in which racism impinges upon the lives of Afro-Americans, even when they are legally 'free.' It is therefore ironic that Huckleberry Finn has often been attacked and even censored as a racist work."
~pages 357-358 of David L. Smith's "Huck, Jim, and American Racial Discourse"

Even more ironic is the fact that Huck makes the morally right decision to help Jim rather than turn him in and this is sometimes seen as a racist work. Granted, I can understand how people could get this idea, as there are quite a few racial slurs in this novel, but I think the slurs were there because that was the way the society within the book was. Anyone who reads deep enough to look past that surface can see that appearances can be deceiving. The climactic scene, discussed many times by now, in which Huck declares that he will go to hell rather than turn Jim in is a good example of this. On the surface, it looks like the fiction is suggesting Huck is wrong in doing what he is doing. Looking deeper, one can see Huck reaches this decision because he has realized Jim is a living human being just like him and has realized how much Jim has come to mean to him. The reason Huck says he'll go to hell for this is because he has been conditioned to believe what he is doing is wrong.

Comments (2)

Exactly! I didn't see this as a racist work, nor do I think many of our classmates did, so I was kind of surprised to see it in this article. I suppose if looking at it as you've suggested - only for face value - it would appear that way. We've picked at so many pieces of this by now that if we were to see it in this light, something would probably seem amiss.

Jeremy Barrick:

The only signs of racism in AHF I can think of come from the reader. I, at first, thought that it was about racism. I have never read it before. I think tha's because we read Uncle Tom's Cabin right before AHF.

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