Thursday, December 10, 2015

Close-Minded America

George Saunders wrote a reflection on Mark Twain's novel, "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", classifying America as either the "United States of Tom" or the "United States of Huck". Huck, Saunders explains, is the curious and open-minded one of the two. The ideal characterization of America would be the "United States of Huck", though that is not necessarily true.

The political decisions that America and its people make are very Tom-oriented, despite the fact that they are thought to be otherwise. Recently, a law was passed allowing all non-traditional marriages to occur. Even though the thought behind this law is very open-minded, in the sense that equality is available for all sexualities, the reality is that it took a very long time to get to that point. In addition, while the law is still passed, many homosexual individuals still experience discrimination by those who don't think that a man can marry anyone other than a man.

Another circumstance that labels our country as being the "United States of Tom" is the political campaign that is currently taking place. The different parties competing to claim the role of President can be, and usually are, very stubborn when it comes to changing their views. The Republicans and Democrats tend to have opposing viewpoints which results in only one select group of people being satisfied.

In Mark Twain's book, Huck is shown to re-teach himself many valuable lessons and opinions on how to treat the people around him. Nowadays, Americans tend to follow the lead of generations before them, defending stances on topics that they are ignorant about. Huck was ahead of his time and definitely matured for his age when he saw Jim as a friend, as opposed to a slave. He was able to disregard all that he had been taught about slaves which is something that Americans today would struggle with.


  1. I agree that we are all living in the United States of Tom because we tend to follow the lead of generations that have come before us. It's hard for people to be like Huck and be able to see things differently. After reading the article, I felt like Saunders was saying that Americans today fell into either the United States of Tom or Huck, but I like how you conclude that we are all in the United States of Tom.

  2. I think the connection you made between the legalization of gay marriage and Huck Vs. Tom was great. I also liked how you acknowledged the younger generation normally follows their parents. Normally, when kids are growing they tend to share the same beliefs their parents have just because they are their parents. When kids grow up and become more knowledgeable, they either agree with their parents based on their new knowledge or they disagree with their parents view.

  3. I definitely agree with your analysis of the US as more Tom like than it is like Huck, and your argument was really supported well when you talked about the legalization of gay marriage and how it doesn't necessarily mean that all discrimination is over. It seems to be that although America has made some ardent strides in the Huck direction, it still has a long ways to go.