HUCKLEBERRY FINN: A CULTURE-CONFLICTED READING

Abstract

Author(s): Pyeaam ABBASI, Hussein Salimian RIZI

Dominant readings of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn (1885) reveal the writer’s seemingly anti-racist views, depiction of Jim as a character superior to the white characters in the novel and confirmation of the ideology of equality. However, the purpose of this study is a non-dominant or culture-conflicted reading of the novel in order to reveal the hidden layers of meaning in the language employed to represent Jim and therefore, conclude Twain as the product of the racist sentiments of his time viewing blacks as “other.” As a cultural medium and the production of the web of certain discourses of an era, the novel is influential in confirming those discourses and establishing reality. Texts can create knowledge and reality, and each time a statement is repeated the author gains more authority in having it declared. Huckleberry Finn is a highly ideologically conflicted novel, and has aroused a variety of reactions from readers. Most of the reactions are concerned with the way Jim is represented. The novel introduces racism as an ideology as well as a cultural construction making Jim “other” or different. Jim is stereotyped as inferior, passive and dehumanized through language that has the power to construct reality. The language used to represent the black Jim by Twain as a subject of the racist ideologies of his time shapes the readers’ way of looking at the black community and guarantees reliability for readers who take cultural texts as cultural worlds.

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