The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
In the novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, there are sparks of Puritanism and Transcendentalism. There are many puritan and transcendentalism thoughts that flow through the story in different ways such as themes, character development, and symbols. Two of the key themes of this book, are its satire of the American society of the 19th century and the cruelty of human nature. Huck grows as a character by meeting Jim, a run-a-way slave, where he gains an unlikely companion. The river is one of the key symbols used in many places through the novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
The satire of the American society of the 19th and the cruelty of human nature play are only two of the key themes in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Most people back in the 19th century believed that a person's fate was determined by outside forces and only an outside force (such as God) can save them. In chapter 15, Huck explains how he "passed the line around one of them right on the edge of the cut bank but there was a stiff current and the raft came booming down so lively she tore it out by the roots and away she went" (61). This quote shows that the outside force wanted Huck Finn and Jim to split up and to show Huck that there is someone that truly cares about him. Many times evil takes the structure of social injustices, so reform should be perused fervently. In chapter 31, Huck recounts that "Once I said to myself that it would be a thousand times better for Jim to be a slave at home where his family was, as long as he'd got to be a slave…"(160).This shows that Huck cares for Jim as person and doesn't care that he's black.
One of the main symbols in the novel is the river, which has represents numerous things throughout the book. The river serves as a refuge from civilization and a source for adventure. In chapter 8, Huck states "The river was a mile wide there, and it always looks pretty on a summer morning-so I was having a good enough time seeing them hunt for my remainders if I only had a bite to eat" (28). This particular quote suggests that when someone dies the townspeople usually look on the river first for a missing person and the river serves as a good hiding spot as well. Along with being a refuge for Jim and Huck, it also serves as a symbol of freedom. Later in chapter 8 Huck says "Well, I did. I said I wouldn't, and I'll stick to it. Honest INJUN, I will. People would call me a low-down Abolitionist and despise me for keeping mum-but that don't make no difference. I ain't a-going to tell, and I ain't a-going back there, anyways. So, now, le's know all about it." (32). This foreshadows a friendship between Huck and Jim that would lead up to them escaping to freedom.
The third theme is the growth that Huck Finn experiences through his unlikely companion, Jim, Miss Watson's runaway slave. In chapter 15, Huck describes how he felt when Jim said to him "En all you wuz thinkin' 'bout wuz how you could make a fool uv ole Jim wid a lie. Dat truck dah is TRASH; en trash is what people is dat puts dirt on de head er dey fren's en makes 'em ashamed." Huck recounts that "It made me feel so mean I could almost kissed HIS foot to get him to take it back "(65). This shows Huck understood that slaves did have feelings and that he did care what Jim feels. Another way Huck's character grows is by realizing that slavery is evil. In chapter 31, Huck describes the struggle he had deciding what was the best thing to do for Jim. He recounted how he "Once said to myself it would be a thousand time better for Jim to be a slave at home were his family was, as long as he'd got be a slave, and so I'd better write a letter to Tom Sawyer and tell him to tell Miss Watson where he was." (601) Huck further recalled "But I soon give up that notion for two things; she'd be mad and disgusted at his rascality and ungratefulness for leaving her, and so she'd sell him straight down the river again; and if she didn't everybody naturally despises an ungrateful nigger, and they make Jim feel it all the time, and so he'd feel ornery and disgraced." (160). This quote shows how Huck thought of Jim as a person instead of a slave and how he had come to care for Jim's well being.
Throughout the novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain there are many hints of Puritanism and Transcendentalism. There are many different themes in the book with the core themes centered on the growth of Huck's character, the cruelty of the human race, and the satire of the American society of the 19th century.