Intolerance Within The Novel

The entire plot of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is rooted on
intolerance between different social groups. Without prejudice and intolerance
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn would not have any of the antagonism or
intercourse that makes the recital interesting. The prejudice and intolerance
found in the book are the characteristics that make The Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn great.
The author of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is Samuel Langhorn
Clemens, who is more commonly known by his pen name, Mark Twain. He was
born in 1835 with the passing of Haley’s comet, and died in 1910 with the
passing of Haley’s comet. Clemens often used prejudice as a building block
for the plots of his stories. Clemens even said,” The very ink in which history is
written is merely fluid prejudice.” There are many other instances in which
Clemens uses prejudice as a foundation for the entertainment of his writings
such as this quote he said about foreigners in The Innocents Abroad: “They
spell it Vinci and pronounce it Vinchy; foreigners always spell better than they
pronounce.” Even in the opening paragraph of The Adventures of Huckleberry
Finn Clemens states, “Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will
be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished;
persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.”
There were many groups that Clemens contrasted in The Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn. The interaction of these different social groups is what makes
up the main plot of the novel. For the objective of discussion they have been
broken down into five main sets of antithetic parties: people with high levels of
melanin and people with low levels of melanin, rednecks and scholarly, children
and adults, men and women, and finally, the Sheperdson’s and the
Whites and African Americans are the main two groups contrasted in the
novel. Throughout the novel Clemens portrays Caucasians as a more educated
group that is higher in society compared to the African Americans portrayed in
the novel. The cardinal way that Clemens portrays African Americans as
obsequious is through the colloquy that he assigns them. Their dialogue is
composed of nothing but broken English. One example in the novel is this
excerpt from the conversation between Jim the fugitive slave, and Huckleberry
about why Jim ran away, where Jim declares, “Well you see, it ‘uz dis way. Ole
missus-dat’s Miss Watson-she pecks on me all de time, en treats me pooty
rough, but she awluz said she woudn’ sell me down to Orleans.” Although this is
the phonetic spelling of how some African Americans from the boondocks used
to talk, Clemens only applied the argot to Blacks and not to Whites throughout
the novel. There is not one sentence in the treatise spoken by an African
American that is not comprised of broken English. The but in spite of that, the
broken English does add an entraining piece of culture to the milieu.
The second way Clemens differentiates people in the novel of different
skin color is that all Blacks in the book are portrayed as stupid and uneducated.
The most blatant example is where the African American character Jim is kept
prisoner for weeks while he is a dupe in a childish game that Tom Sawyer and
Huck Finn play with him. Clemens spends the last three chapters in the novel
to tell the tale of how Tom Sawyer maliciously lets Jim, who known only unto
Tom is really a free man, be kept prisoner in a shack while Tom torments Jim
with musings about freedom and infests his living space with rats, snakes, and
spiders. At the end of this charade Tom even admits, “Why, I wanted the
adventure of it…”
The next two groups Clemens contrasts are the rednecks and the
scholarly. In the novel Clemens uses interaction between backwoods and more
highly educated people as a vital part of the plot. The main usage of this
mixing of two social groups is seen in the development of the two very
entertaining characters simply called the duke and the king. These two
characters are rednecks who pretend to be of a more scholarly background in
order to cozen naive people along the banks of the Mississippi. In one instance