In the story of Huckleberry Finn, Twain denotes differentiating sorts of representations that are utilized in an effort to spread communication throughout. Twain presumes the Mississippi River is an indication of meaning to run far from the environment that Huck and Jim are currently at.
Furthermore, he denounces the approach society operates along with what it educates the civilians to be. The location of river vs. land represents Huck’s battles with himself against society; Twain implies that a person should rather think for themselves and not have to adhere to society.
Twain demonstrates the environment that encompasses Huck simply more than a pair of orders that are broken down and people in power. When the new judge in town gives Pap the permission to keep custody of Huck the judge gives Pap “rights” to his son as his natural father over Huck’s welfare, “He said he’d cowhide me till I was black and blue if I didn’t raise money for him…”
When Pap got out the new judge said he was going to make a new man out of him. So he took him to his own house, and dressed him up to clean and nice, and had him to breakfast and dinner and supper with the family”(16). Despite Huck being treated in a way that is brutal, the new judge looks beyond that and behaves toward him as he is similar to a slave.
By differentiating the condition of slaves to Huck’s situation under the custody of Pap, Twain indicates that it is beyond the bounds of possibility for a society that possesses slaves, to be accurate despite how “civilized” that society thinks and considers they are.
Throughout the novel, Huck comes across individuals that attempt to make him different or refine him like society. Widow Douglas is one of those that tried to change him shown at the start of the novel, “The Widow Douglas she took me for her son and allowed she would civilize me; but it was rough living in the house all the time, considering how dismal regular and decent the Widow was in all her ways; and so when I couldn’t stand it no longer I lit out. I got into my old rags and sugar-hogshead again and was free and satisfied. But Tom Sawyer he hunted me up and said he was going to start a band of robbers, and I might join if I would go back to the Widow and be respectable. so I went back” (1).
The complications Huck has pertaining to the civilized society stem from watching an adult ought to have of the time being concerning the value of the atmosphere he resides in. Huck concedes and goes back to the Widow’s because of the impact of his acquaintance, but as the novel goes on, his dislike for society reappears and influences him to make the best choices.
The land displays a part of man that is deceitful and perceives he must become different or “perfect” what Mother Nature created imperfect and fierce. The Mississippi River is the utmost representation of being free.
Jim and Huck do not have to respond to anyone while being alone on their raft. The river moves Jim in the direction of the free states while for Huck, he is separated from his vicious father and the civil life society of St. Petersburg. At this moment in Chapter XVIII, Huck has run away from the Grangerford-Shepherdson dispute and feels very disgusted by society, “I hadn’t had a bite to eat since yesterday, so Jim he got out some corn-dodgers and buttermilk, and pork and cabbage and greens-there ain’t nothing in the world so good when it’s cooked right-and whilst I eat my supper we talked and had a good time…We said there wasn’t no home like a raft, after all.
Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft doesn’t. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft” (88). Huck is able to understand the freedom the river has. In contrast to the insane events onshore, the raft exemplifies an area to go from outside of society, a place of plain enjoyment and alliance.
Huck and Jim have gone away from Jackson Island while building a friendship and familiarizing themselves with one another, “We caught fish, and talked, and we took a swim now and then to keep off sleepiness. It was kind of solemn, drifting down the big still river, laying on our backs looking up at the stars, and we didn’t ever feel like talking loud” (48). Huck and Jim feel relaxed on the raft, and the freedom the river leaves them in awe.
There is no one in a society that can compare Huck with Jim or anyone doubting Jim’s abilities. They are both able to do what they please, and at this time, they take the opportunity of that freedom. The Mississippi River is the biggest depiction of freedom from the wrongdoing of society and its impact.
Twain attempts to direct a message of free thought throughout Huckleberry Finn. When Huck writes the letter to Miss Watson telling where Jim gets sold by the king and the duke, Huck writes a letter to Miss Watson, but then makes the decision to not direct the letter for Jim’s welfare, “it was a close place. I took […] up [the letter I’d written to Miss Watson], and held it in my hand. I was a-trembling because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knew it.
I studied a minute, sort holding my breath, then says to myself: “All right then, I’ll go to hell”—and tore it up. It was awful thoughts and awful words, but they were said. And I let them stay said, and never thought no more about reforming” (161) Huck goes through a lot and puts his happiness in jeopardy for Jim. Huck’s moral obligations and his friendship with Jim, despite what society has taught him, drive Huck. He concludes that going to hell if that means following his gut and not society’s two-faced actions and cruel social ladder, is a better option than going to society’s heaven. This moment in the book represents Huck’s separation around him.
At the end of the chapter, the majority of tribulations have been fixed: Jim has freedom, Tom is recovering from a wound he had from being shot, Aunt Sally has proposed to adopt Huck: “But I reckon I got to light out for the territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going adopt me and civilize me, and I can’t stand it. I been there before” (220). Huck has learned to admire Sally and Silas, however, he understands the reason why they are still apart of the society he has come to disgust and fear.
From encounters of the past, Huck believes things presented to him are things he does not care have to mind to and are not a necessity to him. Twain grants Huck the ability to ponder for his own self, and make adult judgments, which indicate Twain’s message; think for yourself.
- Shmoop Editorial Team. “The River in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”
- Shmoop. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 16 Jul. 2019.