Freedom From Life
“Man is free at the moment he wishes to be,”- Voltaire. This quote could no better sum up the quest for freedom in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. “Freedom in this book specifically means freedom from society and imperatives. Huck and Jim seek freedom not from a burden of individual guilt and sin, but from social constraint” (425). Throughout the book, Twain illustrates that the quest of the two is one of the breakaway from civilization to acquired freedom.
Huck, though a young child, valued freedom in his life more than any other object and depicted that fact to be one of the main themes in the novel. The conflict between society and the individual became a controlling theme in the novel as it developed. In the book, Huck mentioned that the Widow Douglass was on a mission to “sivilize me; but it was rough living in the house all the time…and so when I couldn’t stand it no longer I lit out…and I was free and satisfied (Twain 11).” The restriction of living with Widow Douglass introduced the idea of Huck’s quest for freedom. Widow Douglas wanted to “sivilize” him.In contrast, Huck wanted to be “free and satisfied.” Freedom not only in the beginning of the novel in this point was evident, but the end reinstated Huck’s desire for sovereignty. The novel ended with Huck planning “to light out” for a different territory because Aunt Sally wants to “sivilize” him. The thought of burden from individual guilt and sin did not connect with the story.Considering the concept of religion is attacked by Twain throughout the novel. Basically, a society which required its slaves to become practicing Christians is a contradiction of the tenants of Christianity. Another intent to leave, was the escape form religion. Huck saw miss Watson’s view of “a pearly gate” concept of heaven as being essentially boring and mainly restrictive. In between these opening and closing remarks, Huck encounters varying aspects, attitudes, and restrictions of society and learns to prefer his own individual freedom.
The idea of Huck’s quest for freedom is easily correlated with Jim’s search for freedom…from slavery. Jim set his quest for freedom also from the background of society. “Well, I b’lieve you, Huck I-I run off (Twain 50).” Jim confesses to Huck that he must gain freedom from the burden of his slavery. Miss Watson’s intention to sell Jim upriver only gave him the motivation to runaway even more. He shared the common goal of freedom with Huck that helped in creating the close relationship that was created throughout the novel. In the end, however, when the widow dies, he is granted his freedom unlike Huck. Jim had no mind in the matter of freeing himself from the burden on individual guilt and sin. He planned to free himself and his family, though that seemed wrong to Huck, it was the right thing to do.
Even though some thoughts of guilt and wrong doing were in the mind’s of the characters, the freedom form sin and individual guilt was no the main issue. Huck did feel guilt about becoming an accomplice in Jim’s search for freedom, but it was soon overcome when he realized Jim’s “sin” was actually the good thing to do. Twain’s concept of slavery and the pious religious concepts of the southerners were the height of the books contradictory absurdity. The freedom was from the people who were in the search of the burden of individual guilt and sin; the characters around both Huck and Jim were walking epitomes of the need of this religious freedom. Huck and Jim became free at the moment they wished to be.