The Jim Dilemma: Reading Race in Huckleberry Finn

By Jocelyn Chadwick-Joshua | Go to book overview

In the Dark, Southern Fashion
Encountery with Society

In an interview with Claudia Tate, Alice Walker says, "If the black community fails to support its own writers, it will never have the knowledge of itself that will make it great. . . . [W]hen we really respect ourselves, our own thoughts, our own words, when we really love ourselves, we won't have any problem whatsoever selling and buying books or anything else" ( Walker, Black Women183). Walker becomes empowered to respect herself through imaginative literature, and the middle section of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, although penned by a white author, promotes a similar transformation into self-esteem. In the nineteenth century, Twain's work was significant in that it brought the ideas of African Americans, ideas shared by such writers as Anna Cooper, to a wide audience they could not hope to reach. The transformation that takes place transcends race, both the race of the author and the race of the characters, and, especially for some African American readers, creates a paradox. Reference to other narratives and the idea of the Menippean Symposia will help us to understand this paradox as it appears in the middle of the novel.

As with works such as Miguel Cervantes Don Quixote de la Mancha, Lewis Carroll Alice in Wonderland and Through the looking Glass, and George Schuyler Black No More, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, in its

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