Books and Movies Reviews

Expression and Perception in Huckleberry Finn

Taking advantage of the immense popularity of an earlier novel,
“The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876),” Mark Twain began working on its
sequel, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884).” The second work
focused less on adventure and more on the slavery problem that then raged
in the South, but put the work aside when it did not blend with the
optimism of the Gilded Age that followed the Civil War. This optimism,
however, began falling apart in the 1880s when the political program of
reconstruction – whereby the defeated South would be reintegrated into the
Union as a slavery-free region- collapsed because of the severe impositions
of the North that embittered the South. Many Southern politicians tried to
maintain power by controlling and oppressing black men and women whom the
“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” became even more famous than
Twain’s earlier novel and enshrined him as one of America’s preeminent
writers. At the same time, it was the object of huge controversy because of
its treatment of the slavery issue and his expression of rage over the
injustices of his time. The novel was banned by the trustees of the Concord
Massachusetts public library (March 18, 1885), while others criticized it
as vulgar and racist, particularly for its use of the word “nigger.” The
public library committee refused to include the novel in its shelves,
because it found the work not fit for “respectable people.”
The Boston Daily Globe (April 2, 1885) pictured Twain as a writer
“â€of grotesque sketches that were coarse and strong and humorous.” It
deplored that he made a reputation and a fortune out of humor, and out of
this, he became Ҡa walking sign, a
literary sandwich, placarded all over with advertisements of his wares.” It
noted how Twain had abused the public’s acceptance of the fun he offered
them by now asking the world to help him with h…