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The Role of the Mississippi River in Huckleberry Finn

The Role of the Mississippi River in Huckleberry Finn

Rivers are often associated with freedom and growth as they are vast and constantly moving and progressing. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is no exception as Mark Twain beautifully paints a picture of a boy who grows significantly during his journey down the Mississippi River. In the beginning of the novel, Huckleberry Finn yearns for his freedom from people who hold him down such as the Widow Douglas and Pap. Ironically, he finds freedom in a place nearby: the river. When he first begins to travel down the river, Huck is more or less self-involved with his own personal motives in mind when running away. He complains about boredom and loneliness when what he really wanted in the first place was to be left alone. When he comes upon Jim, he is overjoyed to be with someone finally and being that it is a Negro man running for his freedom, he begins his growth as a character. As he moves down the river, we see his growth in stages and much of it is due to his experiences on the water, which ultimately becomes his moving home. In the beginning of chapter 19, Twain uses narrative devices and literary techniques to exemplify Huck’s relaxed yet lonesome attitude toward the Mississippi River.

In the beginning, Huck tells us that “two or three days and nights went by.” Usually, two or three days when running away seems like an eternity but, for Huck, “they slid along so quiet and smooth and lovely.” He is relaxed on the river and shows this by his ability to lose track of time and watch it slip by. Huck describes his daily routine, which seems more suitable for a vacationer than a runaway, like this: “Soon as night was most gone, we stopped navigating and tied up-nearly always in the dead water under a tow-head; and then cut young cottonwoods and willows and hid the raft with them. Then we set out the lines. Next we slid into the river and had a swim, so as to freshen up and cool off.” It would seem as though there would be a little bit more tension in a situation where a runaway is hiding out whole days at a time but this seems to...

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Category:   Huckleberry Finn

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