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Luck by Mark Twain

  • Date Submitted: 04/07/2014 03:45 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 56.5 
  • Words: 307
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Is Mark Twain a Racist?
Do literary writers see Mark Twain as a racist? Many racial overtones exist in the classic tale of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. This has fueled a great controversy by characterizing Mark Twain as a “racist writer”(Powers 495). The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published two decades after the Civil War, but its antebellum setting obviously makes for many examples of racism and slavery (Pflueger 83). Although Mark Twain’s writing implies offensive racism to some critics and readers, researchers have had to analyze his early life, the time period, and the transformation of his writing, in order to gain a real opinion on whether Mark Twain truly falls under the category of a racist.
If social upbringing affects the ideas and attitudes of a person’s life, then Mark Twain’s early days can illustrate an ideal breeding ground for a racist (Powers 36). Mark Twain, also known as Samuel Clemens, grew up living his life around slaves. The fact that his father and uncle both owned slaves greatly influenced Clemens (Powers 8). Although young Clemens had no idea where the black people came from, he knew they were profoundly different, “he knew it from their voices” (Powers 13). At eleven years of age Samuel and his friends discovered a corpse of a black slave (Powers 14). His friend had looked after the slave, who had a bounty on his head, by providing him with stolen food for several weeks. Eventually a group of woodcutters found the slave and murdered him. This trauma of finding the corpse ultimately became the source of Huck coming across the runaway slave Jim (Powers 37). It seems fair to conclude that the young Samuel Clemens became tainted by black slavery culture and spent most of his adult life trying to distance himself from slavery (Pflueger 17).


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