Water's Representation of Freedom in Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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In the novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the Mississippi River serves as a prominent setting. Huck, a rapscallion who runs away from his dad by faking his death, and Jim, a runaway slave who previously knew Huck, meet up on Jackson’s Island via the river. To Jim, the river is a symbol of freedom and a way to learn. To Huck, the river is a symbol of his life and everything he wants. The open waters bring about bonding, fun times, and a safe house for both characters. Amidst the water brings a deeper meaning of the river than just water, it is a great entity that shows freedom. Jim, the runaway slave, uses this river to escape from Miss Watson, his owner, because she planned on selling him for $800. The river flows to the free states, and this is where Jim plans on going with or without Huck. As he is with Huck more and more, Jim learns emotions, like love and compassion, on the river. Jim’s newly shown emotions come into play when the narrator states, “It was Jim’s voice – nothing ever sounded so good before. I run along the bank a piece and got aboard, and Jim he grabbed me and hugged me, he was so glad to see me” (Twain 112). Love and compassion is shown here by Jim, to Huck. Only freedom has given this runaway slave a way to learn and live like a human being should. Huck, the rapscallion who fakes his death, also has a deep relationship with the river. He relates the river to his life more or less. Since he is a free man, freedom wouldn’t be the right word, more blithe you could say. “It was kind of lazy and jolly, laying off comfortable all day, smoking and fishing, and no books nor study” (24). Huck’s nature of a care-free person is shown here. He does not like to be cramped up or reformed to anybody he is not. “[I] said there warn’t no home like a raft, after all. 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” (113). Huck likes to be free and easy like the flowing river. It is undeniable that a slow-flowing river and Huck’s life are inter-related. To both of the characters, who meet up via this entity of water, the river symbolizes a place to bond and safety.
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