Escape to Freedom
Over the course of history individuals have fought and died to gain and protect their freedom. While some humans perceive freedom as being able to do whatever comes to ones mind without hindrance, others believe it is the absence of subjection to foreign domination. Regardless of what people can comprehend about being free, it cannot be accomplished or achieved until the person finds themselves away from what hinders them from what they desire. In Mark Twains novel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the raft becomes the basis for the protagonist, Huck, and the runaway slave, Jims, escape. The raft, at first, is merely Huck and Jim's method of transportation; however, over time it also becomes a home, a place of comfort, and a place for emotional breakthroughs in Huck and Jim's friendship. Although the raft represents different physical and psychological elements in the novel, in the end, the raft symbolizes Huck and Jim's accomplishment in achieving the lifestyle they desired.
Huckleberry Finn and Jim spend the duration of the novel struggling to obtain freedom and escape different forms of slavery. Jim's run for freedom is obvious as a black man, but the reasons for Huck's ventures do not appear to be as apparent. Not only is he running from his father, but also the civilized life that Mrs. Watson and the widow would like him to lead. While Jim desires to integrate into society as an equal, Huck yearns to be uncivilized. As Huck and Jim encounter the Duke and Dauphin the raft is used for the getaway of numerous scams. Consequently, the raft that once was an instrument used to escape to freedom was altered as a way to maintain the small freedom they sustained. When the Duke, the Dauphin, and Huck go ashore in one town to feel out the situation Jim stays with the raft. As a result this costs Jim his freedom once again, as he is captured and sold by the Dauphin. The raft becomes a symbol of loyalty as Jim sacrificed his own freedom and is once again a part of slavery. Although the corrupt behavior of the Duke and Dauphin endangered Jims freedom, he managed to progress in his desire to become an equal. He began to sacrifice for the greater good of the group, which illustrates his belief that he is not better or worse than anyone else.
As the novel progresses, Huck and Jim face many obstacles including the river itself, which is ironic because the river is their road to freedom and the raft is their means of transportation. As a result of Huck and Jim falling into troublesome situations, they resort to the raft for protection. Not only is the raft Huck and Jim's vehicle to navigate the river, it also becomes their home and place of comfort. Jim and Huck said, "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 (88). People are usually not influenced by the surroundings of their house while they are at home. They can say and do what they want to and never think twice. Insecurities seem to diminish as individuals begin realize that they do not have to hide who they truly are. Jim and Huck felt a place of comfort on the raft, and as a result, they did not feel ashamed when they were naked. John Locke indicated that all men have the right to life, liberty, and property. Jim finally accomplished the impossible task of being a slave and owning a home. The raft was not only a passage along the Mississippi, but a way to illustrate Jims experience of acquiring his own belongings. Jim and Hucks relationship strengthened, do to the fact that they co-owned the raft. Just as the raft constantly moves, Huck is never required to set a firm foundation. He does not have to abide by the rules and can constantly change the way he lives.
In the beginning of the novel Huck is faced with a serious conflict. As Huck comes into contact with the escaped slave Jim, his conscience and religious training are in conflict. Regardless of what Huck was taught, he respects and sympathizes with Jim too much for him to return Jim to his former owners. During the expedition the raft becomes the place where Jim and Huck begin to bond, and where Huck first realizes that Jim is more than a slave; he is a loving human being. When the two lose the raft, they both band together to locate it again. It is not only their physical means to get Jim to safety, but also the psychological symbol of freedom. Through thick and thin, Huck constantly refused to hand Jim over and treats him as unequal. Hucks association with a slave made him different from everyone else. While society believed in the separation of races, he found the corruption of it all. Huck represents what anyone is capable of becoming: thinking, feeling human being rather than a mere cog in the machine of society; he is truly free.
There are different opinions on what freedom actually is, but despite these views people have to find a tool to detach them from society before experiencing independence. The raft allowed Huck and Jim to find out who they actually where and the lifestyle they wanted to live. At first the raft was an object that was used to get from place to place, but eventually it became a home for Huck and Jim. Consequently, as they began to feel comfortable with one another, they experienced numerous bonding moments. In the world humans live in, freedom can only come with the absence of society. Or, at least, with humans proceeding in a way that transcends society.
Twain, Mark. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. New York: Dover Publications, 1994. Print.