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What are three quotes from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn that symbolize what the...

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megan-westerf... | Salutatorian

Posted November 19, 2013 at 10:34 PM via web

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What are three quotes from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn that symbolize what the river represents in the novel?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 20, 2013 at 2:10 AM (Answer #1)

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In Mark Twain's classic novel, the Mississippi River represents freedom, freedom of spirit, from the hypocrisies of society, freedom from the conventions and laws of society. However, even on the river, Huck and Jim are not always safe from the influences of the towns on the banks of the river.

  • Freedom of spirit

In Chapter Xii, Huck's feeling for the natural beauty of the Mississippi lends the novel an almost mythological aspect. For instance, he describes for the reader how he and Jim built a wigwam with a floor and blankets on which to lie. As they ride on the raft for hours, enjoying a current that runs about four miles an hour, Huck and Jim catch fish, and talk, and swim at intervals.

It was kind of solemn, drifting down the big still river, laying on our backs looking up at the stars, and we didn't ever feel like talking loud, and it warn't often that we laughed, only a little kind of low chuckle.  We had mighty good weather, as a general thing, and nothing ever happened to us at all, that night, nor the next, nor the next.

When they pass by towns, Jim and Huck marvel at the "shiny bed of lights," and when they drift past St. Louis, Huck describes the sight as though "the whole world lit up." Later, in Chapter XIX, Huck narrates that they would at times have the river to themselves, and the peace of the river would soothe them.

It's lovely to live on a raft. 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...We used to watch the stars that fell, too, and see them streak down. Jim allowed they'd got spoiled and was hove out of the next.
  • Freedom from the hypocrisies of society

On the raft, Huck learns about Jim's humanity and realizes that the man differs little from other men when he does not have to act the slave or worry about getting caught. When, for example, Huck sees Jim cry about his family and when he shows Huck affection, Huck realizes for the first time that Jim has true human feelings. On the raft, Jim and Huck can be friends, but once they are on land, this relationship changes and Jim must be fearful.

As they travel down the river, Jim is a surrogate father for Huck; for example, he counsels Huck about the tricksters, "...dese kings o' ourn is regular rascallion, dat's jist what dey is..." He goes on to tell Huck about many kings, such as Henry VIII. Jim's honesty and openness affects Huck profoundly and he develops a real fondness for Jim, who does not possess the moral confusion of many of the other characters. When, for instance, Huck tricks Jim when he has been lost, making Jim believe that he has been there all the time, jim scolds him.

  • Freedom from the constraints of society

On the raft, Huck does not need to worry about being friends with Jim; he does not need to be anxious about Miss Watson's religious scoldings. On the shore, the activities of such as feuds and tricksters, slave traders, slave hunters and the like are to be feared; however on the river, Huck feels more secure.

I never felt easy till the raft was...in the middle of the Mississippi. Then we hung up our signal lantern, and judged that we was free and safe once more. I hadn't had a bit to eat since yesterday; so Jim he got out some corn-doger and...whilst I eat supper we talked and had a good time....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.


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