Original Research

Rhetorical engagement with racism: Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

B. E. Kim
Literator | Vol 19, No 1 | a513 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v19i1.513 | © 1998 B. E. Kim | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 April 1998 | Published: 26 April 1998

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Abstract

Racial relationships were an extremely controversial subject around the time of the Civil War in the USA. Harriet Beecher Stowe in Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Mark Twain in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn treat this provocative issue of race by entrusting important roles to the African-American characters. Uncle Tom and Jim. Predicting the reader's possible revolt against the blatant treatment of the issue, the two novelists use racist expressions in the convention of their contemporary audiences to construct a communication channel with their audiences. As a result, these novels have won enormous popularity. However, they have been criticized for racist tendencies Beneath the seemingly racist surface of their texts, Stowe and Twain present an innovative vision of unconditional human equality. Using various rhetorical strategies, these authors help their audiences realize the unfairness and false grounds of racism. The dialectic between the racist language and the anti-racist message of their texts creates a dynamic force spurring readers into a reconsideration of their attitude toward race.

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