The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn can be read as a novel that illustrates the moral growth of a young and nave teenager as he desperately attempts to escape the perils of civilization. Yet below the surface lies a truly racist attitude. The portrayal of African Americans in this novel is reflective of a racist attitude manifested through the use of language, depiction of African-American characters, and the general attitude towards the African-American race in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. .
The depiction of Jim, a slave in the antebellum South, is truly that of a racist one as seen through the initial descriptions of him, his cognition, and his appearance. In chapter four when Jim is introduced, a very stereotypical image of a superstitious slave without reason becomes present. Obviously a very unreligious view is being presented of Jim who uses a hairball to do "magic with,"" a notion that states Jim is without reason and therefore must turn to superstition. Even the dialect spoken by Jim that was rendered by Twain is reflective of a racist attitude since it does not possess a civilized and respectable tone as seen in the dialogue between the white characters. In addition, Jim is shown to be very dull and dense in chapter fourteen when the debate about language is brought forth when Jim disagrees with the fact that foreign language need be in existence. This view obviously deprecates the view of the African-American as an uncultured race without any reason, and elevates the racist attitude of the novel. .
Yet one could argue that these depictions and language needs to be put into context with the era the novel was written when the word "nigger- was a common term and African-American slaves were mirror images of what Twain renders. Though the language used and the images of African Americans present within in the novel is reflective of 19th century society, one reading this novel in the contemporary era would find the text very demeaning if not read or taught in its context.