To many readers, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is known as the “Great American Novel”. It tells a story about a young boy and an escaped slave who develop an unlikely friendship while traveling down the Mississippi River. Twain explores many American literature themes in his writing. Three themes that appear frequently throughout the novel are freedom, nature, and individual conscience.
Freedom plays a significant role in the story because Huck is trying to free himself from Widow Douglas and his father and Jim is escaping from slavery. When Miss Watson and Widow Douglas took Huck in, they were determined to make him more civilized. They don’t allow him to smoke and they’re constantly reminding him to stop scrunching up and sit up straight (4). With the women always on his case, he isn’t able to be the independent, carefree boy that he really is. When Huck gets kidnapped by Pap, he’s grateful to be away from the widow’s house because it’s too “cramped up and sivilized” (30) for him there. Even though he’s free from the widow, his life is in danger if he stays with his drunk abusive, father. Huck’s goal is to “get so far away that the old man nor the widow couldn’t ever find me any more” (31). He’s able to do just that by coming up with a clever escape plan that tricks the whole town into thinking he’s dead. This leaves him free to do whatever he pleases, just like he wanted. Jim’s goal, however, is to escape from his slavery and help free his family. After overhearing Miss Watson tell the widow that she’s going to sell Jim, he realizes that he’s going to be separated from his family so he runs away to Jackson’s island, where he meets Huck. His plan is to travel to the free states so he can free his family and f…
…nd he truly cared about Huck. That’s when Huck realizes that he needs to go save his friend. He tells himself, “’All right, then, I’ll go to hell.’” (250) and tears up the letter he had written.
Freedom, nature, and individual conscience are just a few of the American themes that are explored by Mark Twain in the novel. Both Huck and Jim were able to achieve the freedom that they longed for. Huck managed to escape from both the widow and his father, and Jim was no longer a slave after Miss Watson died and freed him in her will. When Huck lived with the widow and Miss Douglas, he thought of Jim as just another stupid negro. However, after spending time on the river together, he was able to see a different side of Jim and develop a real friendship with him. Huck battles with his conscience several times throughout the story when he feels guilty for helping free Jim.