Monday, January 20, 2014

On the River

Brendan O’Brien
EN 346

            In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck experiences traumas and sees more amounts of pain and suffering than many adults in the novel. These experiences lend to Huck having a very pessimistic world view. On land, Huck witnesses many horrors such as the murder of Boggs, the clown pretending to be in peril at the circus, and the repeated scheming and exploiting of people by the Duke and King. All of these situations cause Huck to question the true nature of humans and whether or not they are innately evil beings. This leads Huck to despise being off of the river and on land where he is constantly barraged with things he wishes he did not see. However, he finds his solace on the raft and on the river with Jim where they make their own rules and leave their worries behind on the shore. On the river, Huck feels truly free and he experiences pure emotions that cause him to question everything he has been taught about Man and society.

  A prime example of this freedom is seen after Huck believes he has escaped the King and the Duke and all of the chaos that they have caused with the Wilks family. Huck is overjoyed to be back on the raft and believing that he has finally escaped them he writes, “it did seem so good to be free again and all by ourselves on the big river and nobody to bother us. I had to skip around a bit, and jump up and crack my heels a few times, I couldn’t help it” (Twain 215). For one of the very few times throughout the novel, Huck seemingly experiences pure joy. He finds relief on the river and the very thought of being free with Jim again causes him to skip and jump around. To be fair, the Duke and King do return shortly afterward to the dismay of Huck. However, this does nothing to lessen the sincerity of Huck’s original emotions. All that Huck has experienced on the river has contributed to a great inner conflict as he struggles to reconcile his experiences with what he has been taught. It is therefore very compelling that Huck prefers to be on the river, where he is constantly questioning what he knows, over land, where society’s true nature is revealed. Huck is such a wise character because he is slowly beginning to rely on his own personal experiences and emotions rather than the teachings of others. Only a child, Huck realizes that evils such as slavery or exploiting the poor are rampant in society and Huck resolves to create a new sort of Eden for himself and Jim on the river. 

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