Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Freedom from Reality

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In Mark Twain’s, Huck Finn, Huck seeks to escape oppression from his father and manages to fake his own death and run away. Just after his escape, Huck meets Jim, a familiar runaway slave to who he regretfully decides to help. Along their journey they travel down the Mississippi River which comes to serve as an asylum away from the influences of society. While the river initially appears to offer freedom from the wrongs of society, it ironically brings them closer towards the oppression of southern society.

Initially the river offers Huck and Jim physical and mental liberation from society. Searching for freedom, Huck and Jim learn that they need to use the river as their path to freedom. On the river, they find beauty, peace, and also discover that they make their own rules:

Sometimes we'd have that whole river all to ourselves for the longest time…maybe you could hear a fiddle or a song coming over from one of them crafts. It's lovely to live on a raft. We had the sky up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made or only just happened. (1325)

In this passage, we see how life on the river opens them up to pondering new ideas and discovering new found appreciation for nature. Through a physical separation they are able to appreciate the friendship and liberation that nature offers. They recognize that they are away from society and now have only the stars, the sky and the river to guide them. This physical separation also gives them a sense of mental separation, where they are able to make their own rules and become open to ideas. When Huck says, “I was boss of it, it all belonged to me…” (1267), we see that Huck fee...

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..., Huck’s journey down the river opens his eyes to the ugliness of human nature and the danger in losing sight of reality. Huck’s illusion of the river as being a genuine escape from society is cut short by the quick invasion and the steady influence southern society has. The invasion of southern society to life on the river tears down the physical and mental barriers and once again attempts to enslave them to the influences of society. Until that point, their journey down the Mississippi is just another one of Tom’s adventures. It is through this placement back into the realms of reality that Huck and Jim finally are able to challenge ideas of not only southern society but also human nature.

Works Cited

Clemens, Samuel. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Paul Lauter, et al. 2nd ed. Vol. 2. Lexington: Heath, 1994.
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