Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Race Quotes Page 2
How we cite our quotes:
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?
"Because Mary Jane 'll be in mourning from this out; and first you know the nigger that does up the rooms will get an order to box these duds up and put 'em away; and do you reckon a nigger can run across money and not borrow some of it?" (26.97)
Here, the duke is basically saying that all black men are thieves—which, of course, is exactly what the duke is. Ah, hypocrisy. But it's really no worse than the rest of the antebellum South, which welcomes in white strangers and… locks up black strangers.
So she done it. And it was the niggers—I just expected it. She said the beautiful trip to England was most about spoiled for her; she didn't know HOW she was ever going to be happy there, knowing the mother and the children warn't ever going to see each other no more—and then busted out bitterer than ever, and flung up her hands (28.3)
Aside from Huck, Mary seems to be the only other white character in the book who's able to see black people as having the same feelings and emotions as white people. But is she actually doing anything about it? (Crying doesn't count.)