I do believe without a doubt, Let my people go; That a Christian has the right to shout, Let my people go.
When Twain introduces Huck Finn to the world in Tom Sawyer, he tells us that Huck was "cordially hated and dreaded by all the mothers of the town" and that, therefore, all their children "delighted in his forbidden society." Tom Sawyer, like the others, "was under strict orders not to play with him. So he played with him every time he got a chance." 1 And early in the novel, when his teacher asks him to explain why he was late for school, Tom confesses that he had stopped to talk to Huckleberry Finn; the result is a serious beating: "The master's arm performed until it was tired and the stock of switches notably diminished." 2
Some twenty-five years later, in a piece that was not published until after his death, Twain once again described in precisely the same language a childhood "friend whose society was very dear to me because I was forbidden by my mother to partake of it." Twain went on to tell how his mother beat him seriously when she caught him listening to this person talk -- but no matter: young Sam Clemens returned daily, beating or not. Tom Blankenship? Not at all, although Twain would later describe him in similar terms, as well. The subject of Twain's comments in 19013 is a slave named "Jerry," a master of the African-American art of "signifying" who