Huckleberry Finn – Freedom
In the novel The Adventures Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, a theme of freedom is portrayed. Freedom takes on a different perspective for each character in the novel. In Jim, the runaway slave, and Huck's, the mischievous boy, journey, they obtain freedom. Jim's hunt for freedom is an escape from the clutches of slavery, while Huck's is a flight from the civilized world. Their hunting for freedom is for one reason, for their happiness. This is shown throughout the novel in Jim's desire of escaping slavery and Huck's wish for being uncivilized.
From the beginning of the novel, Jim lives his life as a slave. He is fairly content until one day, when he overhears his owner, Mrs. Watson, talking about selling him to New Orleans. Jim becomes terrified and runs from Mrs. Watson. From that point on in the novel, Jim turns into a runaway slave
. His journey with Huck down the Mississippi river
begins with only the fear of being caught as a runaway slave. Later in the journey, Jim starts to yearn for freedom from slavery. This is manifested in this quote when Huck describes Jim's reactions about being free in Cairo
, "Jim said it made him all over trembly and feverish to be so close to freedom" (97). Jim's excitement is also demonstrated in more actions about Cairo as Huck describes more, "Jim was fidgeting up and down past me. We neither of us could keep still. Every time he danced around and says, "Dah's Cairo!"" (97) Jim's excitement for freedom is obvious. Slavery sets social chains on Jim's life and hinders his happiness and his goals in life. The only way Jim can achieve his happiness is through freedom. Freedom for Jim means escape from slavery and a release from the social chains.
Huck makes a clear point about his perspective about living in the Widow's civilized home when he states, "But it was rough living in a house all the time...and so when I couldn't stand it no longer, I lit out. I got into my old rags, and my sugar-hogshead again, and was free and satisfied" (1). Huck keeps this outlook on being restricted throughout the novel. Huck's journey with Jim on the raft is so Huck can flee from the confines of his Father and the Widow. He depicts his satisfaction and freedom on the raft when he states, "Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don't. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft" (128). In these statements from Huck, the portrayal of freedom for him is the flight from the home and civilized life. As an adventurous boy, the house just serves as a jail to Huck's way of life. Huck's goals are to get away from that confining life and lead an existence of an unrestricted life. All of the events and goals that Huck accomplishes are for his happiness. In leading the happy life, Huck must obtain the freedom of an unrestricting, uncivilized life. That is what freedom means to Huck.
Similarities appear in each of Huck's and Jim's portrayal of freedom. One important similarity is both of their visions of freedom are intertwined with their escaping from society. Miss Watson's attempts at civilizing Huck are shown when she orders Huck, "Don't put your feet up there, Huckleberry; and don't scrunch up like that, Huckleberry, set up straight" (2). This civilization and becoming one with society becomes bad experiences for Huck, causing his desire for an unrestricted life. Jim's unhappy experiences from society also result to Jim's portrayal of freedom. As a slave, he is not treated as equally by society as white people are. His unequal treatment from society causes his wish for escaping from slavery, as Huck's bad experiences from society cause his hope for an unrestricted life. Another similarity is that both wish to obtain freedom for their happiness and comfort. As shown in Cairo and raft quotes earlier, freedom is something that can make their life happy and more comfortable.
Freedom is an important concept. It serves as a common goal, something to obtain. For Jim and Huck, freedom meant happiness, a happiness away from the binds of society and into a world of freedom. In the end, this is what freedom meant to them and is what they strived for.