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In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, what are three quotes that show how the river...

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megan-westerf... | Salutatorian

Posted December 4, 2013 at 4:48 PM via web

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In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, what are three quotes that show how the river represents freedom to Huck and Jim?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 4, 2013 at 5:12 PM (Answer #1)

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Throughout the novel, the symbol of the river is a very important one that can be taken to mean freedom from the restricting nature of civilisation and rules and regulations, but also the need to face the complexities of life without rules and regulations with responsibility. Note for example how Huck talks about the river in the following quote, where he speaks of his joy at escaping civilisation and organised life and returning to a lifestyle where he is alone with Jim and there is nobody there to tell him what to do:

So in two seconds away we went a-sliding down the river, and it did seem so good to be free again and all by ourselves on the big river, and nobody to bother us.

Being on the river is explicitly associated with being "free again" without anybody to "bother" them and force them into a way of life or behaviours that Huck associates with "civilised" life and other people. To Huck, the river is associated with freedom because he is away from those who would control him and make him engage in behaviours that he is unwilling to follow.

The river as a symbol of freedom is developed through the following quote:

Soon as it was night out we shoved; when we got her out to about the middle we let her alone, and let her float wherever the current wanted her to...

Here, the freedom that Huck and Jim feel is matched by the freedom of their vessel and the way that it is left to float "wherever the current wanted her to." The power of the current in controlling the course of Huck and Jim is attractive precisely because it is a natural process, rather than being something that is manmade and artificial. 

In Chapter 6, another quote that talks about the freedom that Huck has when he lives with his father by the river is as follows:

It was kind of lazy and jolly, laying off comfortable all day, smoking and fishing, and no books nor study. Two months or more run along, and my clothes got to be all rags and dirt, and I didn't see how I'd ever got to like it so well at the widow's, where you had to wash, and eat on a plate, and comb up, and go to bed and get up regular, and be forever bothering over a book, and have old Miss Watson pecking at you all the time.

It is clear that living by the river away from civilised life and the forces of civilisation such as Miss Watson has its distinct advantages. Whereas with Miss Watson Huck felt hassled, bothered and forced into conducting himself in certain ways such as having to wash, eat with a plate and also reading regularly, with his father he is "comfortable all day" just fishing and being "lazy and jolly." Life by the river is contrasted deliberately with life in the town, and to Huck, life on the river definitely is superior. 


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