Freedom In Huckleberry Finn Essay, Research Paper
The conflicts surrounding the quest for freedom in Mark Twain s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn create a plot think with sorrows and triumphs of a boy traveling with a runaway slave in the harrowing years before the United States Civil War. The overlying theme of escape seems to be an obvious one: Huckleberry Finn wishes to flee from life with a drunken father and newfound benefactor, while Jim tires of the binds of slavery. The two journey off on a raft down the Mississippi River, and in confining themselves to a relatively small piece of driftwood, they find greater liberty than ever conceived on the mainland.
Some of the most blatant opposition Huck and Jim inflict to society s standard is their nakedness. While on the raft, they wear none of the clothes that make Huck do nothing but sweat, and feel all cramped up, (11). Shedding the skins of civilization allow the boy and the slave to emerge from the cloaked morals of a world condemning them for their conformity. Without clothes, they become the true and vulnerable characters, unobscured by the continual disguises donned throughout the novel.
Leaving the raft creates more problems though than that of proper attire. When venturing out onto the shore, Huck often finds himself trapped in situations in which he has no part. In the instance of the feud between the Grangerfords and the Shepherdsons, Huck becomes virtually an adopted son, held captive in fascination for the hate between the two well-bred families. It is only when he goes against his conscience and runs ass liaison for Miss Sophie that chaos begins and he has a chance to escape. Huck is not literally held prisoner at the Grangerford home, but his adventure therein illustrates the prejudices that can blind even the most dignified of persons. Upon attempting to kill Harney Shepherdson, Huck asks Buck Grangerford to explain his motive. He replies, Him? He never done nothing to me Only it s on account of the feud, (111). This bigotry is a quality that can not exist between Huck and Jim during their life together on the raft. Despite it s lack of comforts, Huck comments about his preference to the raft as opposed to any sivilized house. I was powerful glad to get away from them feuds We said there warn t no home like a raft after all. Other places do seem so cramped and smothery (119).
Home on the raft is very different from any that either Huck or Jim have experienced before. Perhaps the most important freedom that it endowed was the right to be. In orthodox society, neither Jim nor Huck were considered men and Jim s race barely human. Nowhere but in the freedoms of their confines would Jim and Huck be able to play one a level field and eventually find something closer than friendship. Without castes to define their roles, Jim and Huck face new issues of honor and bravery. As it is thought that that raft reaches Cairo, Jim is high with the taste of liberty and he takes allowances in his spirit that frighten Huck. Well, I can tell you it made me all over trembly and feverish, too, to hear him, because I go it through my head that he was most free, (92). The feeling escalates when Jim speaks of stealing his children, It most froze me to hear such talk. He wouldn t ever dared to talk such talk in his life before, (93). Despite a lengthy battle with his conscience Finn also finds relief from the backwards morals taught in southern society. Eventually he resolves that he would rather go to hell than sell Jim out, (210) and finds greater peace in this decision than in any other.
Though escape fattens the plot of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, it is freedom that nourishes them. In the novel Twain addresses issues of hate, prejudice, and a society that passes down ill-founded behaviors rather than education the new generations. Huck and Jim runaway from a world that is inhuman in its civilization, and find the many hidden wonders of a bare life on the wide Mississippi River. By setting off alone, they find each other and the joys personal independence. Huck concludes that, It did seem so good to be free all by ourselves on the big river and nobody to bother us, (201).