Social Sensitivity

As in Huckleberry Finn, the Characters in Tom Sawyer exhibit attitudes typical of the mid-19th century, referring to black Characters as “niggers,” though not as frequently. The stereotypical villain, Injun Joe, derives from the frontier figure of the violent and vengeful Native American. These elements should be recognized both for their negative connotations and their historical significance. Twain’s realistic representation of his Characters’ attitudes should not be mistaken for his own attitude. The controversy surrounding Huckleberry Finn has produced substantial evidence of Twain’s integrity; he intended much of what he wrote to reveal the inconsistencies in his Characters’ beliefs.