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Jennifer Sullivan <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 15 Nov 1995 11:06:55 -0500
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I am writing my thesis on Mark Twain and Jonathan Swift. The book Satire or
Evasion?, ed Thadious Davis, has been very helpful as far as covering the
debate on whether or not Huck is a racist book. So far, I would argue that
although Twain probably thought of his work as having abolitionist
aspirations, he was unable to completely remove himself from the racist
ideology that dominated his own society. After reading The Black Image in
the White Mind by George Frederickson, I learned exactly how "natural" it
was to think that "Negroes" were scientifically inferior to whites, and
could serve as childlike, sensitive emotional foils for the agressive
tendencies of the Anglo Saxon race.
Twain may have tried to end Huck with a positive, more humanistic portrayal
of Jim, but he could not break the ties of minstrelsy, prejudice, and other
degrading traditions of his time. -Jen