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sandy trail Mark Twain Racist Or Realist

Mark Twain, Racist or Realist?
Introduction
This paper examines Mark Twain’s work to determine whether or not he was racist. Racism is defined by The American Heritage Dictionary as the belief that one race is superior to others. Unfortunately the issue of race isn’t black or white. There are many shades of gray in racism and even the most progressive thoughts of old seems conservative as progress enlightens new levels of thought. During his time, Twain was a forward thinking author who championed many causes, one of them being fair treatment of the downtrodden and oppressed.
The only example of potential racism is his treatment of the Goshoot Indians in Roughing It. The main body of his work points to innovative anti-racist themes. Even if one admits that Twain fosters some derogatory stereotypes labeling his work scabrous, unassimiable, and perhaps unteachable to our own time is shortsighted and revisionist. Even if Twain was racist the process of learning is supposed to combat backwards teaching from our past through exposition and discussion (Wonham 40). I even learned from Mein Kampf and objections to Mark Twain’s potential racism pale in comparison to Hitler’s crimes against humanity. Mark Twain certainly wasn’t as politically correct as contemporary newsmen or politicians but his primary occupation was as a satirist. Even today successful comedians, from Saturday Night Live to The Tonight Show, use techniques similar to Twain’s irony, satire and burlesque.
Every serious Twain scholar knows of Twain’s reputation as a burlesque humorist/satirist as well as his anti-imperialist and anti-religious tendencies. The scholar must be careful when labeling or categorizing Twain’s work because of his frequent use of sarcasm but Twain definitely liked blacks and abhorred slavery. His treatment of Natives and the Chinese was questionable when looked at apart from his work as a whole, but he slammed the white race more mercilessly than he ever condemned any other race. Sadly, the cynical and sarcastic Mark Twain can never be fully understood because only he knew what thoughts he was trying to convey.
Twain often used burlesques to get a point across by showing the ignorant how ignorant they actually are. In Huck Finn, Twain linked religion and slavery by showing how the former can pervert knowledge and cause acceptance of the latter over objections of conscience. When Huck is ’born again’, he forgets his vow to aid Jim, and his euphoria as being ‘born again’ resembles the feeling of being ‘light as a feather’ that he experiences after deciding to turn Jim over to the slave-catchers (Fulton 83). This commentary is as much about the sorry state of slavery as it is about slavery’s Biblical foundation.
James L. Johnson dedicated Mark Twain and the Limits of Power to outlining how, like Emerson, Twain’s solipsism is a fundamental ingredient in much of [his] best work (Johnson 8). Twain’s characters had or wanted an extraordinary ability to dominate the worlds in which they find themselves (Johnson 1). Twain had little faith in a Christian God so he put more faith in the self. Johnson also thought Twain’s bitterness increased as he unearthed that the larger and more masterful the Self became, the less benevolent he was likely to be (Johnson 7). Although Twain’s life was common because it had limits he envisioned a character who might not have to make those accommodations, a hero who might break out of the prison of limitations into a brighter life (Johnson 187). Frustration with the world, hence a caustic temperament, arose as time wore on but Twain never lost sight and hoped for mastery over it and freedom (Johnson 189).
In 1907 Bernard Shaw remarked to Archibald Henderson that, Mark Twain and I find ourselves in the same position. We have to make people, who would otherwise hang us, believe that we are joking (Clemens 5). This point is well illustrated by the fearless Twain in this excerpt from Mark Twain’s Jest Book:
In the spring of 1899, I was one of a crowd of some 1200 who attended at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York to hear a lecture on his adventures in the South Africa War given by a Lieutenant of Huzzars, one Winston Churchill – ... more

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The Ice Storm Book Vs. Movie C

There are many ways to tell a story. Back before there were books there as the actual storyteller who could speak out a story. There is also acting where people physically perform a story. Books are another storytelling device that is more permanent, the words are kept and they can be reviewed again and again. Now there are movies, which provide story telling with more an emphasis on visual effects. The question is which way is the best to present a certain type of story. The Ice Storm by Rick Moody was in such a position that one could actually look at both the modern movie and the book version.

     The story is a realistic story about the Hoods and the Willams. Both of these families were affluent families that lived in New Canaan. The book centers around Wendy and the events that take place during the their thanksgiving in the 70s. The story is pretty simple and is about family strife. Wendy is a typical adolescent exploring her sexuality. At the same time her parents, Ben and Elena are having marital differences. Ben is cheating on his wife with Janey, the wife of his close friend Jim. The irony comes up with Wendy who is has sexual relations with Janey and Jim's son Mikey and his younger brother Sandy. Wendy's older brother Paul who goes to boarding school returns home and is sexual inexperienced he desires to be with a girl named Libbets. The story centers around a key party that both the Hood's and Willams' attend. The highlight of the key party is where people place their keys into a jar and people pick up the keys of different people to have sex with the owner of the keys. At this party Ben expects to have sex with Janey, but instead Janey blows him off and has sex with someone else. This night Elena also finds out about the affair and has an affair with Jim, Janey's wife. Now while both of the parents are away Mikey wants to see Wendy, but instead Wendy fools around with Sandy. Mikey ends up wandering during the ice storm to get electrocuted by a live wire. At the same time Paul is with Libbets drinking and taking drugs. All of this is happening simultaneously on one fortuitous night.

     Though the events and a lot of the dialogue are the same in both the book and the movie the crux of the two are completely different. The book focuses a lot more on sexual tension and sexual exploration. The vocabulary they use is a lot more elaborate than the movie, actually it's more elaborate than most books. I see few books that use the word 'orgasm'; or 'bestiality'; at all. It's not typical book lingo. Though the vocabulary emphasizes the sexual nature of the book. The movie on the other hand probably wouldn't make a lot of money going with the erotic taboo nature of the book. Instead it focuses more around the ideas of family neglect and the hypocrisy of the parents doing what they don't want their kids to do. The story is more like an MTV clip of the real world than the book plot. Though that's what makes the movie so great. The people seem so real, like everyday people. The relation is even stronger because I live in an affluent community. The two different focuses put a different tint into the same story.

     For instance there is a scene where Sandy and Wendy are fooling around while their parents were gone. The dialogue is exactly the same. Wendy says, 'Have you ever had a nocturnal emission'; and Sandy replies, 'Huh?'; Wendy says, 'They didn't tell you this stuff yet? What planet do you live on?'; (149). In the movie it's pretty insignificant. The movie is more about the shock that these kids are fooling around in bed and the talk shows how they're so immature about sex. In the book though this is significant because the next page they show what Wendy is thinking and how she doesn't even know what she is talking about. 'She didn't know much about them anyway. Orgasm ... more

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