In Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, the Mississippi River plays many roles and holds a prominent theme throughout much of the story. Huck and Jim are without a doubt the happiest and most at peace when floating down the river on their raft. The river has a deeper meaning than just water and mud, almost to the extent of having it’s own ideal personality. It provides the two characters a means of escape from everything and everyone, and puts them at ease. Although quite constrained in it’s capacity to provide freedom of movement, the raft offers the two a certain amount of freedom in actions, words, and emotions. Huck senses this truth when he mentions how; ‘other places feel so cramped and smothery, but a raft don’t. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft.’; (Twain, 113) However, the freedom that is experienced on the raft can be deceiving. This freedom is only temporary and will not last forever. Huck and Jim cannot live on a raft traveling down the Mississippi forever and must focus on the main situation at hand, getting Jim his true freedom A freedom that stretches beyond the limiting reaches of a raft.
Huckleberry resents the objectives and beliefs of the so-called ‘civilized’; people of the society around him. Huck likes to be free from the restrictions of others and just be himself, living by his own rules. He disbelieves the societal beliefs that have been embedded in his mind since birth, which is shown by his brother-like relationship with Jim, a runaway slave. Only on the raft do they have the chance to practice the idea of brotherhood which they are so devoted to. When
on the raft, peacefully wading down the river, skin color plays no major part in the way that they interact and outright racist perception is nonexistent. The river is the only form of separation from all of the negative virtues of society which Huck has access to. However, it still does not completely separate them from what they disbelieve in. Although the river allows them a certain amount of freedom at first, this freedom is very limited in it’s capacity, for they must still make a big effort to avoid others, hiding by day and floating down the river by night. Huck has to constantly invent new stories to tell nearby boatsmen or any other people who might interfere with their quest for freedom.
Another appeal of the river it’s ideal peacefulness. It does not seem like Huck enjoys the company of others too much with the exception of Jim, Tom Sawyer, and secondary characters such as Mary Jane Wilks. He seems to enjoy a tranquil environment where there are not many unnecessary annoyances. When he and Jim anchor to watch the sun rise, he mentions that there was; ‘Not a sound anywhere- perfectly still- just like the whole world was asleep…’; (113) With just Huck and Jim on the raft things probably would tend to be more quiet for two people can only talk for so long, as opposed to having mixed conversations with many people. He loves these moments which possibly last for even days at a time, for at one point Huck says; ‘Two or three days and nights went by; I reckon I might say they swum by, they slid along so quiet and smooth and lovely.’; (113) This degree of peace and appreciation of quietness took time to get accustomed to and strengthens every time they return from the land. The more they venture onto the shore, the more they appreciate everything the raft has to offer. Huck’s attachment to the raft and his companion grows every time he returns to the serenity of the raft. Not only does he enjoy
in a way being cut off from society, but he somewhat becomes detached from it, not realizing that he has entered the realm at times.
Although the river provides such heavenly things to Huck and Jim, it is also a source of danger, and the threat is ever-present. There is the threat of the raft being ripped apart during storms. (Thunderstorms on the Mississippi were especially severe) This threat