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.