You Don?t Know Me?
both noble and decent and deserved to be free like any other man whether he was black or
Twain?s early development of the character Jim has been controversial because of
the apparent racism. In the early chapters, Jim was portrayed as a typical slave stereotype:
superstitious, ignorant, and naive. On two separate occasions Huck delighted in
dead snake in Jim?s blanket after Jim had warned him that, ?it was the worse luck in the
world to touch a snakeskin.? Then Huck realized Jim wasn?t really the fool he thought
him to be when the dead rattlesnake?s mate returned and bit Jim. Huck felt bad. Huck
played his last trick on Jim after they passed Cairo and got separated by the currents. At
first, Huck thought it was funny to pretend that they had never been separated, but he was
Huck?s viewpoint of Jim was changing, but his former upbringing was evident when he
openly admitted, ?It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to and humble
myself to a nigger.?
It was statements like this that have made many dispute Twain?s intentions. Did he
not purely racist, since it was not used in a derogatory manner but as a term meaning black
person. The real racism was in the way the characters viewed ?niggers.? After the
steamboat explosion in Chapter 32 Aunt Sally said, ?Good gracious! anybody hurt??
Then Huck casually replied, ?No?m. Killed a nigger.? Relieved Aunt Sally said, ?Well it?s
lucky; because sometimes people do get hurt.? Twain was being ironic and wanted his
considered the death of a Negro worth noting.
than changing tradition. Huck was further angered that a whole town could be duped by
disagreed with the king when he inhumanly separated and sold the Wilks family?s slaves,
no one interfered. Although many could interpret this incident as racist, Twain used this
incident to show how Huck?s viewpoint and values had changed. Huck realized that Jim
and other ?niggers? were not just someone else?s property but human beings and should
be treated accordingly.
Twain was not a racist. Throughout the book, he did not make one derogatory
civilized society which had enslaved them to be religious zealots and hypocrites, fools and
liars, robbers and murderers, and rogues and scoundrels. Twain had satirized the pre-civil
war American society and its institutions to make his reader question their present actions.
would have realized it directly opposed the current Jim Crow laws. Twain had
see his point or would turn him off like Huck and Tom?s friends did when Tom Sawyer
outlined the rules he found in adventure books. Instead, Twain hoped his reader would
view the world through Huck?s eyes to realize if they were open and honest they too
sympathy for other human beings and be able to recognize racism.