Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
by Mark Twain
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Huckleberry Finn Quotes
It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a nigger; but I done it, and I warn't ever sorry for it afterwards, neither. I didn't do him no more mean tricks, and I wouldn't done that one if I'd a knowed it would make him feel that way. (15.49)
Huck isn't happy about having to apologize to a black man, but he does it. It's super impressive for the time and place that he ends up apologizing, but we can see that he's still, well, racist—he's just less racist than everyone else. Is Twain holding him up as an example, or does Twain want us to do better?
It most froze me to hear such talk. He wouldn't ever dared to talk such talk in his life before. Just see what a difference it made in him the minute he judged he was about free. It was according to the old saying, "Give a nigger an inch and he'll take an ell." Thinks I, this is what comes of my not thinking. Here was this nigger, which I had as good as helped to run away, coming right out flat-footed and saying he would steal his children—children that belonged to a man I didn't even know; a man that hadn't ever done me no harm. (16.8)
Okay, aside from how gross this passage is, notice the contradiction. Huck says "his children" when he's talking about Jim, but then, just two words later, says that those children "belonged" to a different man. Does Huck realize this contradiction, on some level? Or is this Twain, pointing out how much Huck still has to learn?