Physical Journeys

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A physical journey occurs as a direct result of travelling from one place to another over land, sea or even space. The physical journey can occur individually or collectively, but always involves more than mere movement. Instead physical journeys are accompanied by inner growth and development, catalysed by the experiences and the decisions that impact the outcome of the journey. These journey concepts and the interrelationship between physical and emotional journeys is exemplified in the text; The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost, the children’s book Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers and the film Stand By Me directed by Rob Reiner.

Mark Twain’s picaresque novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (hereafter Huck Finn) gives a realistic portrayal of Southern life before the American Civil War and depicts the way companionship enables the journeyers to learn from diverse perspectives enriching the journeys power to prompt inner growth and development. This is clearly depicted through the use of first person persona, where Twain employs the uneducated vernacular voice of Huck Finn. This technique contributes to the authenticity of Huck Finn’s Southern characterisation emphasising his transformation from racial prejudice and small mindedness to a more moral and tolerant perspective. Together Huck and Jim embark on their personal quests for freedom; Huck for freedom from “sivilisation” and Jim for freedom from slavery. Together they travel down the river a motif that symbolises their desire for liberation and security. “ I never felt easy till the raft was…out in the middle of the Mississippi…we was free and safe once more”. As they travel they are not merely moving down the river but discovering who they are as they learn and grow along the way.

Throughout the course of the novel, as they travel down the river in search for freedom, Huck’s opinion of Jim changes. Initially Huck feels he should not be helping Jim to freedom and almost turns him into slave catchers. Huck says, “I was paddling off, all in a sweat to tell on him”, the use of the idiom accentuating his over-eagerness to conform to society’s expectations by advocating slavery. Although painfully slowly for the reader Huck eventually recognises Jim’s equality with white men. “It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a nigger but I done it, and I warn’t even sorry for it afterward neither.
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