Huck Finn River Essay Research Paper Contrasting

Huck Finn River Essay, Research Paper

Contrasting places are often used in literature to represent opposed

forces or ideas which are central to the meaning of the work. The

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a novel which tells the story of a boy

named Huckleberry Finn and his journey down the Mississippi River.

Author Mark Twain contrasts the river and the shore in order to get

across to his readers the idea that society tends to conform people

while nature lets them be free and true to themselves.

In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the river becomes Huck s

home, and the shore is the place he avoids. The river can represent

either a god or a sanctuary. Like a god, the river guides Huck on his

journey. It pulls Huck downstream where he meets new people such as

the scheming duke and king and the Grangerson family, and also

reunites him with old friends, such as Jim, the runaway slave. The river

can also represent a sanctuary to Huck as well. It is a place for him to

run to, to escape the life he doesn t want. It is a safe haven from his

father who wants nothing but his son s money. The reason Huck turns

to the river in the first place is to escape from his drunken abusive

father. Huck finds much more happiness on the river than with his father

or at the Widow s home, where he is supposed to be living. On the river,

Huck is free to go wherever he pleases and to be whoever he wants to

be. He doesn t have to look for adventure, adventure finds him quite


The shore, on the other hand, represents civilization and

persecution, which is what Jim and Huck want to avoid. On the shore

Huck is forced to be someone he isn t by attending school, wearing

fancy clothes, and practicing good manners. He isn t free to live the

kind of life he wants to live, which is unburdened and spontaneous.

Jim wants to avoid society because, since he is a slave, he believes that

the Widow is going to sell him, when in all actuality, she wants to set

him free. Jim does not want to be subservient or be looked down upon

anymore because of the color of his skin. He only wants to be happy

and reunited with his family.

Considering what the river and the shore represent, its easy to

understand why the course of this novel follows the river. By contrasting

the river and the shore, Mark Twain shows that society places a restraint

on the individual and attempts to force them to conform to its

standards, while nature tends to bring out the individuality in people

without placing any restraints upon them. Understanding what the river

and shore represent and how they relate to the characters can give the

readers a greater understanding of the novel in its entirety.


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