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LitEditor
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Discussing Finn: Race and Racism

In Jon Clinch's novel, Finn is deeply conflicted on issues of race. Which of his impulses are good? Which are bad? What could he have done to change the outcome of his circumstances?


This thread is particularly suitable for those who have read most or all of Jon Clinch's Finn. If you haven't finished the book, please be aware there may be plot spoilers among the posts.

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jd
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jd
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Re: Discussing Finn: Race and Racism

I am wondering if Finn was really very conflicted about racism. He certainly used Mary and found her available as a punching bag, but I think one of the reasons he does not speak of his atrocities is that he feels entitled to do so. His father was despicable but at least was honost and would have nothing to do with a black; not in any capacity.
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khia213
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Re: Discussing Finn: Race and Racism

Finn is both drawn and repulsed by black people, particularly black women. He feels comfortable in their company due to his own inability to fit into white society. They accept him as a man and he feels nurtured and safe with them. Of course, he is as despicably racist as the rest of the white world of that time and always believes himself superior to them. Perhaps, seeing them as lesser creatures, they are the one group of people he can feel truly superior to.
jd
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jd
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Re: Discussing Finn: Race and Racism



khia213 wrote:
Finn is both drawn and repulsed by black people, particularly black women. He feels comfortable in their company due to his own inability to fit into white society. They accept him as a man and he feels nurtured and safe with them. Of course, he is as despicably racist as the rest of the white world of that time and always believes himself superior to them. Perhaps, seeing them as lesser creatures, they are the one group of people he can feel truly superior to.




Khia - I like the "feel superior to" idea. Perhaps that is why he is able to beat mary and huck so religiously because he feels he is superior to them and only has that small amount of superiority to muster. thanx - jd
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Re: Discussing Finn: Race and Racism

[ Edited ]
I'd say that only men who in some respect feel weak, powerless and feel threatened beat up women and kids (systematically) in order to instil fear and thus bust their self confidence in such a despicable way.

ziki

Message Edited by ziki on 03-19-200701:27 PM

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khia213
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Re: Discussing Finn: Race and Racism

I also think the no decent white woman of the time would have him. He was completely aware of this.

Mary, of course, had little choice about going with him initially, but there was a time when she was able to choose and still chose to be with him. I think there was a lot of self hate in the room when the two were together.
jd
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jd
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Re: Discussing Finn: Race and Racism



khia213 wrote:
I also think the no decent white woman of the time would have him. He was completely aware of this.

Mary, of course, had little choice about going with him initially, but there was a time when she was able to choose and still chose to be with him. I think there was a lot of self hate in the room when the two were together.




If you did not read Finn to conclusion do not read further, this will spoil it for you!!!!! Did you find any tenderness when Finn first sees Huck and later takes him to the saloon and has the fight and the rest of the story begins? I thought that Huck would be the turning point for Finn, but he was still lost several pages later- /then did Huck become the same N**** that his mother was and thus become one of the things his father could be superior to? There was so much hope in the beginning and then all was lost because of hatred and liquor, although I felt the liquor was due to the hatred from Finn sr.
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jonclinch
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Re: Discussing Finn: Race and Racism

Before I say anything else, let me tell you how much fun it is to see these characters coming alive in this discussion. Thank you, one and all.

That conflict in Finn's heart -- between learned racism and an unstoppable urge for something if not better than at least different -- was for me the key to giving him both a genuine life of his own and the potential for redemption.

That'll do for now.

-- Jon


jd wrote:

If you did not read Finn to conclusion do not read further, this will spoil it for you!!!!! Did you find any tenderness when Finn first sees Huck and later takes him to the saloon and has the fight and the rest of the story begins? I thought that Huck would be the turning point for Finn, but he was still lost several pages later- /then did Huck become the same N**** that his mother was and thus become one of the things his father could be superior to? There was so much hope in the beginning and then all was lost because of hatred and liquor, although I felt the liquor was due to the hatred from Finn sr.

-------------------------------
http://www.readfinn.com
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self hate



khia213 wrote: I think there was a lot of self hate in the room when the two were together.




Keeping my comments general for now....I'd say if that is the situation love can never result.

ziki
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khia213
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Re: Discussing Finn: Race and Racism

I think Finn wanted to be able to love but he couldn't free himself from his upbringing or society. The one love he actually craved, that of his father, was toxic. So, instead of rejecting the truly poisonous person in his life and choosing to be a real rebel in that society, he mistreated the people he could have lived with as family. And historically, we know that there were a few people who just rejected the condemnation of society and lived and loved who they wanted. Those were strong people. Finn never gets to that level of strength.

As for the liquor, Finn has to self medicate. To have live with the knowledge of what he has done and witnessed, would kill even a strong man.
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