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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Book Report/Review Example

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

It is essential to realize that the novelist adopts a strategy of subversion in his attack on race, in which he "focuses on a number of commonplaces associated with 'the Negro' and then systematically dramatizes their inadequacy." (Smith) In a reflective exploration of the famous novel by Mark Twain, it becomes lucid that Mark Twain has been effective in his attack of the nature of racial discourse in American society and his novel cannot be regarded as a racist novel.
A profound analysis of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn in relation to American racial discourse confirms that novel is an important example of how the notion of Negro inferiority is presented through the narrative strategy adopted in the work. One of the major concerns of the novel has been to illustrate the social limitations imposed on individual freedom by the American 'civilization'. In fact, it is wide of the mark to brand the novel racist, and the various attempts to consider the work as a racist novel do not take into consideration the specific form of racial discourse to which the novel responds. It is fundamental to realize that the novel by Mark Twain takes deals with the various essential ways in which racism impinges upon the lives of Afro-Americans, although they are legally 'free'. Therefore, it is incongruous to attack the novel Huckleberry Finn as a racist work and, as David L Smith maintains, the novel is undoubtedly one of the major Euro-American novels for its explicitly antiracist stance. "Furthermore, Huckleberry Finn offers much more than the typical liberal defenses of 'human dignity' and protests against cruelty. Though it contains some such elements, it is more fundamentally a critique of those socially constituted fictions - most notably romanticism, religion, and the concept of 'the Negro' - which serve to justify and disguise selfish, cruel, and exploitative behavior." (Smith) Therefore, it is fundamental to consider the novel by Mark Twain as an American racial discourse in which, apart from revealing the attitudes about race or conventions of talking about race, race itself becomes a discursive formation, restricting social relations on the basis of alleged physical differences.
In an analysis of Huckleberry Finn as an essential American racial discourse, it becomes obvious that the novelist Twain attacks the general attitude of the Americans towards the concept of 'race' and 'the Negro'. Historically, the primary emphasis in the definition of 'race' in America has been on white supremacy and black inferiority and the concept of 'the Negro' has been realized as a socially constituted fiction. Huckleberry Finn makes an essential attack on this reified fiction and the novelist adopts a strategy of subversion in his attack on race. In this strategy, the novelist focuses on various commonplaces connected with 'the Negro' and then systematically dramatizes their inadequacy. For example, he makes use of the term 'nigger', and reveals the superstitious behavior of Jim. Significantly, the term 'nigger' remains heavily shrouded in taboo as a major offensive word in the vocabulary and Twain's use of the term has caused serious damage to the credibility of the novel. However, a profound analysis of this term within the context of American racial d ...Show more


Mark Twain's celebrated novel Huckleberry Finn offers an intriguing case of analysis of American racial discourse and this novel is noted for its central themes of race and racism. Several critics have maintained that the novel's presentation of the issue of race is complex and uneven…
Author : tromplydia
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn essay example
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