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The Good Place (Analysis Of The Role Of The Mississippi River In The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn)

1726 words - 7 pages

In Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" the Mississippi river serves as a constant in an otherwise scattered narrative. As Huck recounts his adventures, the story moves us, literally, down the river through the heart of the American continent, and through the heart of Huck himself, as he develops in life. The first mention of the river comes in Chapter 2, when Huck calls the river "grand" (252). This characterization of the river as a larger than life figure is indicative of things to come. The river is central in the physical journey of course, but also becomes indicative of Huck's spiritual journey as well.As the book begins, the widow Douglas and Miss Watson are teaching Huck about Christianity. Miss Watson deplores Huck's behavior, asking him, "...why don't you try to behave?" (249). She then tells him about heaven and hell, warning Huck, that within the context of her faith his behavior will lead him to eternal damnation. Miss Watson describes heaven as "the good place" (249), saying that all "...a body would have to do there was to go around all day long with a harp and sing..." (249/250). Huck disagrees with Miss Watson as to what is desirable while living, so he concludes what Miss Watson desires in the after life would also be less than ideal.The ideal Miss Watson is describing is an existence of pure leisure. If all one has to do is go around and sing, then one does not have to do anything else. Miss Watson's vision of heaven is one where a person is free from all the labors and responsibilities of everyday life. Huck consistently feels stifled by the responsibilities imposed on himself and others by society. First, he wants nothing to do with Miss Watson and the widow's efforts to "sivilize" him saying, "...it was rough living in the house all the time...when I couldn't stand it no longer, I lit out. ...and was free and satisfied." (249). By the time Huck's father returns to town though, he has begun to adjust to his life in the Widows' care saying, "I liked the old ways best, but I was getting so I liked the new ones, too, a little bit." (257). Pap is not pleased that Huck is living with the widow and getting an education. Huck is told to leave school, and after having been truant with regularity, he begins to attend with more regularity.Huck is flexible, happy in the woods and learning to be happy amongst civilization. He is able to adapt to his situation and make the most of it. Being told what to do, having decisions imposed upon him, does not sit well with Huck though. He goes to school "...to spite Pap." (262). Huck soon finds himself in his father's custody, living a few miles up the river and forced into seclusion. There his living situation is opposite what it was under the widows care, brute and uncivilized. Huck though, adapts and says, "It was pretty good times up in the woods there, take it all around." (262) Only after he was "...all over welts" (262) from constant beating and being locked up for days does...

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