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At the surface Mark Twains famed novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a thrilling narrative told by a 13-year-old boy who embarks on a perilous journey down the formidable Mississippi River aboard a tiny wooden raft The storys sensationalism sometimes makes Hucks journey seem unbelievable Underneath however lies an authentic portrait of the institution of slavery in America during the 1850s Although born and raised in Missouri Twain vehemently opposed slavery He witnessed the inhumane treatment of blacks and openly criticized the barbaric institution of slavery In an 1885 letter sent to Francis Wayland dean of Yale University Law School which was publicized in the New York Times Twain sought reparations for former slaves We have ground the manhood out of them and the shame is ours not theirs and we should pay for it Twain was an early pioneer in this movement as the debate over compensating former slaves continues to rage into the 21st Century Much of Twains writing identifies him as a humorist However he reveals his pessimistic side as a satirist in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn which was published 20 years after the Civil War Through the innocence of Hucks narrative Twain attacks slavery racism hypocrisy and injustice during one of the most shameful and embarrassing periods in American history Several main characters throughout the novel epitomize typical slave owners and their attitudes toward the bondage of another human being They are racists who portray the worst of what society has to offer Twain frequently satires these characters and their treatment of slaves through the use of irony and ridiculing their paradoxical behavior and ostentatious lifestyles Slaves had no control over their own destiny and were often sold several times throughout their life This severed family bonds causing disintegration of identity and culture among blacks Huck lives among racists Miss Watson the sister of Hucks guardian the Widow Douglas is a slave owner Miss Watson fosters the
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