In his novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain uses nature not only as ally, but as a deterrent in Huck Finn's search for independence and Jim's search for freedom. The most prominent force of nature in the novel was the Mississippi River. The river was not only their escape route, but perhaps it became their biggest enemy because it was always unpredictable. Nature is the strongest factor in the novel because in a completely different geographical setting the story would have had not only a different outcome, but Huck and Jim might never have found friendship and freedom. Twain changes his tone when describing the Mississippi River from wry and sarcastic to flowing and daydreaming. This change in tone illustrates his own appreciation for the beauty and significance that nature holds for him.
The conflict between society and the individual is a theme portrayed throughout Twain's Huckleberry Finn. Huck was not raised in accord with the accepted ways of civilization. He practically raises himself, relying on instinct to guide him through life. As portrayed several times in the novel, Huck chooses to follow his innate sense of right, yet he does not realize that his own instincts are more moral than those of society.
From the very beginning of Huck's story, Huck clearly states that he did not want to conform to society; "The Widow Douglas she took me for her son, and allowed she would sivilize me... I got into my old rags and my sugar hogshead again, and was free and satisfied."
When Pap returns for Huck, and the matter of custody is brought before the court, the reader is forced to see the corruption of society. The judge rules that Huck belongs to Pap, and forces him to obey an obviously evil and unfit man.