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The role of the Mississippi River in The Adventures of Huck Finn

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November 13th 2012 Literature Morris The Mississippi River in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Rivers flow freely and since the dawn of human civilization rivers have been the cradle of life. People use rivers to get water, to get food, to clean, and historically rivers have even been sources of waste dispersal, but Mark Twain uses the river to portray a deeper message, and the Mississippi River in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is one of the most important aspects of the novel. While Huck and Jim are alone on the raft They are not under anybody?s authority, but their own. The River is their source of freedom, independence, adventure, and change. From the start Jim has had nothing to lose, he has lost his family, he has no money, and the widow is going to sell him to New Orleans. Huck is in a slightly more complicated situation, at initial glance, he has the world. He found over five thousand dollars, adjusted for inflation that is nearly two hundred thousand dollars today. ...read more.


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,? (Twain 90). The two interact in a way that would not have been possible on the mainland due to the social conventions of the mid 19th century. The pair discusses complicated issues of morality, and Twain takes the reader on a very humbling experience. The readers gain the insight on the innocence of the characters, which is contrasted with the societal belief in Huck and Jim?s ?ignorance?. The raft and the river also shows the paradox in the 19th century society, "We 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,? (Mark Twain 88). Physically the raft is much smaller than the Widow?s house, but Huck describes it as if it more physically free, because of the overwhelming sense of freedom he has. ...read more.


Huck and Jim have been travelling on the river for several days, and Huck is beginning to get curious about the new towns that they have passed, in order to prevent getting ?captured? he dresses up like a girl and visits a house, ironically the women suspects him of being a boy, and he gets caught. Later on the men experience many more adventures. The River is also a major source of change in the novel. As the plot progresses the river becomes more aggressive towards Huck and Jim, ?It was a monstrous big river down there- sometimes a mile and a half wide,?(Twain 88). The boys encounter these adventures, which in turn become increasingly more negative towards Huck and Jim. Finally Huck and Jim encounter the ?duke ? and the ?dauphin?. The river only replaces the negative effects of one situation for another, whenever they escape. Each attempt to escape society ironically mirrors the continual drift towards slavery, and prison. The river begins to symbolize the complex society that Huck and Jim are truly attempting to escape from. The River becomes a short term escape, and Twain is showing how Jim and Huck can never truly escape the society that they come from. ...read more.

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