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Word Count: 816
Controversial in death as he was in life Mark Twain has been seriously accused by some of being a racist writer whose writing is offensive to black readers perpetuates cheap slave-era stereotypes and deserves no place on todays bookshelves To those of us who have drunk gratefully of Twains wisdom and humanity such accusations are ludicrous But for some people they clearly touch a raw nerve and for that reason they deserve a serious answer Lets look at the book that is most commonly singled out for this criticism the novel that Ernest Hemingway identified as the source of all American literature The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn For Twains critics the novel is racist on the face of it and for the most obvious reason many characters use the word nigger throughout But since the action of the book takes place in the south twenty years before the Civil War it would be amazing if they didnt use that word A closer reading also reveals Twains serious satiric intent In one scene for instance Aunt Sally hears of a steamboat explosion Good gracious anybody hurt she asks Nom comes the answer Killed a nigger But anyone who imagines that Mark Twain meant this literally is missing the point Rather Twain is using this casual dialogue ironically as a way to underscore the chilling truth about the old south that it was a society where perfectly nice people didnt consider the death of a black person worth their notice To drive the point home Twain has the lady continue Well its lucky because sometimes people do get hurt Thats a small case in point But what is the book really
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