Shelley Fisher Fishkin

in Lighting Out for the Territory

Published in print July 1998 | ISBN: 9780195121223
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199855162 | DOI:

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The chapter recounts Mark Twain's lifelong battle with the ghost of slavery, racism, and his efforts, through his writings, to make his fellow citizens aware of and perhaps change their attitudes on the social blight. The chapter begins with the case of one Johnson Whittaker, the first black to enter Westpoint, who was subsequently expelled through racist acts in the late 19th century. This event helped shape Mark Twain from being ordinary Samuel Clemens of Hannibal to the insightful, socially-responsible author that he became. The chapter then traces the roots of and factors affecting this gradual transformation, including references to courageous former slaves whose stories further fueled Twain's burgeoning outrage for racism. In the last few sections, the chapter then juxtaposes Twain's social awakening to the experiences of her modern-day students, which serves to introduce the main topic of the following chapter.

Keywords: Mark Twain; Johnson Whittaker; Samuel Clemens; Hannibal; Westpoint; racism; students

Chapter.  22638 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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