Journey to Independence in Huckleberry Finn
In the novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the main character, Huck, struggles to develop his own set of beliefs and values despite the very powerful social structure of his environment. The people he encounters and the situations he experiences while traveling down the Mississippi River help him become an independent thinker in the very conformist society of 19th century Missouri.
Huck is a free spirit who finds socially acceptable actions to be restrictive and unbearable. This is demonstrated after Huck and his best friend Tom Sawyer find a large amount of money. The Widow Douglas adopts Huck. With Widow Douglas, Huck feels as though society's values and norms are being shoved down his throat. "The Widow Douglas she took me for her son, and allowed she would sivilize me; but it was rough living in the house all the time, considering how dismal regular and decent the widow was in all her ways; and so when I couldn't stand it no longer I lit out. I got into my old rags and my sugar-hogshead again, and was free and satisfied." (Twain 3) As Huck and Tom's adventure down the river begins, they have to quickly adapt to life on a raft. Both Huck and Tom prove themselves capable of this task. "My bed was a straw tick-better than Jim's, which was a corn-shuck tick; there's always cobs around about in a shuck tick, and they poke into you and hurt" (Twain 123) Resourceful Huck made beds for both he and Jim on the raft. No longer does he have the bed at Widow Douglas's house or even his sugar-hogshead, but he still survived with what he had.
Early on in the journey, the reader can see the fondness that Huck has for mankind. "And begged me to save their lives-said they hadn't been doing nothing, and was being chased for it-said there was men and dogs a-coming. They wants to jump in, but I says: 'Don't you do it. I don't hear the dogs and horses yet; you've got time to crowd through the brush and get up the crick a little ways; then you take to the water and wade down to me and get in-that 'll throw the dogs off the scent.'" (Twain 116) Huck acts like a Good Samaritan. Not only does Huck have pity upon these two men, he is also willing to take action and help them to safety. ""When I got down out of the tree I crept along down the river-bank a piece, and found the two bodies laying in the edge of the water, and tugged at them till I Got then ashore; then I covered up their faces, and got away as quick as I could....