The Concept of Freedom
Many Americans think of freedom as an idea and practice that was pioneered in the United States of America. Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is based on the truly American concept of individual freedom. This tale is about a young boy named Huckleberry Finn who travels down the Mississippi River with a runaway slave named Jim. The most literal form of freedom comes through Jim, who is escaping human bondage. Freedom comes in different forms in the book as well, particularly through the protagonist, Huck Finn. Mark Twain’s novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn provides a statement on individual freedom and magnifies the conflict between man -or in this case, boy- against society.
While writing The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain was not very concerned with the issue of slavery and freedom for blacks, but the subject is touched on throughout the story through Jim’s character. Jim’s idea of freedom is simply owning oneself and having his wife, children and friends free from human bondage as well. Jim’s freedom, however, is not at all what the novel is about. In his essay, “Huckleberry Finn and the Problem of Freedom”, Sanford Pinsker said, “Jim’s slavery and gradual movement toward freedom is at best only a small part of what the novel is about” (Pinsker). Instead, the novel is about Huckleberry’s search for liberty in a place where it seems impossible to find.
Huck first decided to leave his town because he was tired of it and all of its rules. There was no freedom there for him, therefore he had to leave. He then proceeded to hop on a raft because on the river he was finally free. Huck described it as “mighty free and comfortable on a raft”(116). The raft is Huck’s home and his freedom, because it is so unlike when he is on the shore. On the shore, freedom is not possible because Huck and Jim cannot be themselves. While on the raft, there are no rules, titles or placements, thus they can be or do whatever they...
Cited: Pinsker, Sanford. “Huckleberry Finn and the Problem of Freedom”. Virginia Quarterly Review 7 no. 4 (Autumn 2011): 642-649
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