Discuss the paradox and how it pertains to major themes at the end of Chapter 18 in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
“I was powerful glad to get away from the feuds, and so was Jim to get away from the swamp. 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.”
Huck's remark at the end of Chapter XVIII, expresses his revulsion for the nonsensical creeds and rules of society since on the raft he and Jim are free of all these societal boundaries that "cramp" a person.
After being caught up with the feud of the Grangerfords and Shepherdsons in which the entire clans are nearly wiped out, Huck is relieved to be back on the raft in which peace reigns between him and Jim, and there is no one to interfere with this peace.
I was powerful glad to get away from the feuds, and so was Jim to get away from the swamp.
For, on the raft there are no laws, such as the ones broken by Jim who flees slavery. Nor are there any customs or systems of honor, or social hierarchy. Furthermore, there are no foes, no prejudices, and no hypocrisy such as that exhibited in the feuding clans who attend church on Sunday with guns resting between their knees.
There are also no complications, either, such as that of the love of Miss Sophia Grangerford for Harney Shepherdson, a love that fuels the hatred of the families for one another and leaves young Buck, who has befriended Huck, dead. Hence, it is reasonable that Huck feels freer on the small, but less socially restrictive raft where he and Jim can be friends and act authentically. This feeling of freedom on the raft certainly underscores the themes of the hypocrisy of so-called civilized society as well as the theme of racism/slavery as Jim always must hide whenever he is on land.
The paradox here is that Huck is describing the raft as the opposite of a place that is cramped up and smothery. He describes the raft as spacious when it is actually just a tiny little thing where he and Jim are cooped up together.
This pertains to the major theme of Huck's desire to be free. Huck wants to be free of the rules that society is trying to place on him. When he is on the raft, he feels free because there are no rules. When he is on land, even in a mansion like the Grangerfords, he feels cooped up by all the rules of society.