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Discrimination Discrimination is a disease; a sickness that has plagued American society for hundreds of years. It can be seen and experienced everywhere. The slandering of people because of their ethnic background, religion, or social status. Why is there discrimination in the world? Hate, envy, racism, selfishness; these traits are not instinctive, rather, they are learned. It does not matter where anti-social traits are initially experienced, whether it is found in the home, or school, or even in the nursery, the results are the same.
Children that are exposed to discrimination at an early age could have a propensity towards violent behavior as they mature. Children must be shown that discriminatory behavior is not acceptable, and traits, such as compassion, are acceptable. Too many children today are left alone or unsupervised by guardians and parents. In todays society, it is a common trend for both the mother and father to work. Young children are many times left in the care of schools, friends, neighbors, and relatives. In these cases children behave in ways that imitate real life.
Discrimination can be found almost anywhere. Television, tabloids, and especially the news, reveal discrimination on a daily basis. Writers use the theme of discrimination to reflect the harshness of the world; the true nature of man is to degrade those that are different. But through compassion and understanding one can rise above the fascist views life has impinged on us. Black Boy, by Richard Wright, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain serve as good examples of how one can rise above discrimination and catch a glimpse of a world of equality. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the word nigger is used many times in relation to the run away slave Jim.
Huck Finn, after faking his own death to get away from his father, meets up with Jim on the Mississippi River. Its important to understand Jim and Huck's relationship in regards to the time the story takes place. According to Pictures of Jim: Who dah? This is Jims first line, which is also the novels first line of dialogue. Its a good question for Jim to ask. One of the greatest issues raised by the novel is who is there as far as Jim is concerned a human being?
A piece of property? What makes Huck decide to go to hell in the scene that most critics call the moral climax of the story is that he can see Jim before me, instead of the figure his culture has told him is there: Miss Watsons nigger. But how the novel as a whole sees him is a question that remains very controversial (1). Over the course of the novel Huck's opinion of Jim changes.
In the beginning of their voyage, Huck feels he shouldnt be helping Jim to freedom and almost turns him in to slave catchers, I was paddling off, all in a sweat to tell on him; but when he says this (that Huck is his one and only friend) it seemed to take the tuck all out of me (Twain 87). Huck begins to enjoy having Jims company, and when Jim is sold by the Duke and the King, Huck breaks down and cries while asking the Duke where Jim is, sold him I says, and begun to cry; why he was my nigger, and that was my money. Where is he? I want my nigger (Twain, 208) Then Huck steals Jim from the Phelps farm (eventhough he was already set free by Miss Watsons will). Huck Finn changes as we go through the story because Jim becomes more then a nigger to Huck. Huck's eyes are opened to the possibility that Jim is a man and not someones property.
It may be suprising but Huck Finn wasnt considered a racist for the time that this story occurred. Huck Finn acted and thought just like many other Southerners, (Huck) We blood out a cylinder head. (Aunt Sally) Good gracious! Anybody hurt? (Huck) Nom killed a nigger. (Aunt Sally) Well, its lucky; because sometimes people do get hurt. Back then Negroes were treated as objects or animals.
The word nigger was the normal word for a black person. To be black meant you were someones property. Black people were not human and they were of little importance to the white mans cause. But Huck Finn peers through the programmed views of discrimination and sees Jim as a person with feelings, personality, and over the course of the novel, Jim and Huck become like a family. They sacrifice their own needs to provide for each other. Black Boy is a story of the life of Richard Wright.
Throughout the novel Wright is constantly exposed to discrimination. At the beginning of the novel Richard is four years old, living with his younger brother, his parents, and his grandmother who is bed-ridden. In a fit of mischief and spontaneity, Richard sets fire to some white curtains. The fire escalates, burning down half of the house. Trying to escape punishment, Richard hides underneath the house. When his father finds him, Richard is beaten almost to death and falls into a delirious sickness.
Richards parents neglect him throughout the novel. They leave him alone at home and he has to fend for himself. The discrimination Richards parents show towards him in his early year effected the way he views the world as an adult. In chapter 12 while delivering a pair of glasses to a department store, the counter clerk a Yankee asks Richard if he is hungry. Uncomfortable and paranoid, Richard refuses to talk to him, answering the mans questions with lies. Richard even refuses to take the dollar that the man hands to him.
What bothers him is that the man knew how he really felt, how hungry he was; Richard feels that the safety of his own life depends upon how well he is able conceal his true feelings from all whites. Richards isolation from the white world is directly due to the discrimination he encounters from whites early in his child hood. He learns early on that whites are bad and that by talking to them he will put himself in a situation of trouble. Richards Uncle Hoskins is shot and killed by white men and from this Richard develops further his hatred of the discriminating white world, Mrs.
Hoskins done been shot. Done been shot by a white man, the boy gasped. Mrs. Hoskins, he dead (Wright, 54). Throughout all the suffering Wright goes through in Black Boy, throughout all the discrimination, he keeps his integrity and strength. Stories are the impressions of real life.
These two stories are reflections of the discriminating world around all of us. Huck's realization that Jim is more then a black man, and Richard Wrights un tarnishable and indestructible integrity, give the reader hope that one day discrimination will be just an ugly memory. In a world where the golden rule only applies to a certain group or minority, discrimination is bound to flourish. And as long as we look down upon others, mankind exists without meaning.
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