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Huckleberry Finn And The Problem Of Freedom

1338 words - 5 pages

Freedom cannot exist within any society, civilization, or country. Though, the United States is reputed for offering complete freedom and independence for all men, it continued for almost century after its establishment to enslave a select race of people. Neither does it offer unmitigated freedom to white people, because the liberties of separate individuals often come into conflict and cannot coexist. No country or place within society has yet reconciled this fact. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain asserts that comprehensive freedom does not exist for anyone within a society and can only be procured in solitude.
Despite the claim made in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal,” the United States continued to allow and endorse the institution of slavery for many years. America is known throughout the world as the land of freedom and opportunity, yet a large percentage of its population was subject to bondage in society’s basement. “As Americans, we bow to no one in our official regard for freedom” (Pinsker), however, most Americans during the early eighteen hundreds were not aware that slavery is wrong. Few people understood the evil of slavery as an institution. Abolitionists and those who freed slaves were frowned upon by society and punished by law for their “crimes.” Fear kept many people from openly denouncing slavery. In the novel, Huck was especially worried that “it would get all around that Huck Finn helped a nigger to get his freedom” (Twain 203). Aiding an enslaved person was a shameful thing to do at this time in the South, however Huck decides to help Jim anyway and “go to hell” (Twain 205) for it. Many slaves were not as lucky and never did escape the hell of Southern slavery. These black men and women were never offered any kind of liberty, despite the fact that they lived in “the land of the free.” The liberty supposedly offered in America was officially restricted to those of European decent.
Furthermore, unlimited freedom did not exist in American for all white people either. Women and children of European descent had more liberties than anyone of African descent, but were still subordinate to the white male. Even the white male must obey government officials. All kinds of people lack the rights to be truly independent in American society. In the novel, Huck is subject to the will of Pap and the Widow Douglas and Miss Watson and Judge Thatcher. He is constantly seeking liberation from their oppressive rules and practices. Although he is technically free, “Huck seeks a different kind of freedom-escape from both the abuse of his father and the civilizing influence of the Widow Douglas and her sister” (Rasmussen). Despite the ladies’ best intentions, Huck chafes under their will to “sivilize” him. Huck must also acquiesce to Pap’s every command lest he be brutally beaten. Huck runs away to escape these constraints and work towards freedom. He realizes that he must avoid towns and people in...

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