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Summary: the Meaning of Home as a Freedom

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Sometimes, home is not home, but one can feel a sense of home in an unexpected place. In Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, the main character, Huck Finn finds his “real” home on a raft, floating down the Mississippi River. Huck Finn flees his hometown to escape the wrath of his father, who is an angry alcoholic. Huck leaves everything behind, including six thousand dollars in gold that he found the past year; consequently, he has few possessions and feels very lonely. However, he soon meets Jim, a runaway slave. The pair travel south, down the river on the raft, trying to find the Ohio River, which will take them north to freedom; Huck Finn and Jim never find that freedom. On the journey, Huck encounters many homes that are nice and accepting, and that give Huck all the comforts of stable home life, but nothing feels as much like home as the raft. This is true because he feels at home on the raft, as it is the most stable place, with no outside parental forces imposing on his freedom, such as Miss Watson, the Widow, Pap, the Grangerfords, and Aunt Sally and Uncle Silas.

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Huck does not feel at home in his hometown with his Miss Watson, the Widow (his caretaker), or his father. His father is an alcoholic who often threatens Huck, and sometimes Pap acts on those threats and Huck has to flee for his safety. At one point in the novel, a few days before he escapes, Huck states, “He chased me round and round the place with a clasp knife, calling me the Angel of Death, and saying he would kill me” (Twain 39). This is an example of the struggles that Huck faces in his day-to-day life with Pap. On the other hand, life on the raft provides solitude and comfort when it’s just Huck and Jim, with disruptions.

Huck does not feel at home in his hometown, but after living on the raft for a while, it soon feels like home. However, the stability of the raft is soon disrupted when a massive steamboat comes out of the fog and dark and mass just feet away from the raft. Huck and Jim jump overboard to avoid the collision. While on land, Huck cannot find Jim so he walks about a quarter of a mile into the woods, and comes across the house of the Grangerford family. He is angrily greeted by restless dogs, as well as by the guns of the men in the Grangerford family. They think Huck is a member of the Sheperdsons, the Grangerfords’ rival family. However, once they find out that Huck is not a member of the Shepherdson family, they allow Huck to enter their house. The house is grand, beyond anything Huck has ever seen. He says, “ It was a mighty nice family, and a mighty nice house, too. I hadn’t seen no house out in the country before that was so nice and had so much style.” This proves that he likes the house and the people, and at this point, he believes, that this could be a permanent home. Although this all changes when the Grangerfords and the Shepherdsons have a battle in which all the Grangerford men are killed. Huck flees while this is happening and runs to the river. When he is walking down the river he hears Jim, and they get on a makeshift raft and start to paddle away. While they do this Huck states, “We said there warn’t no home like a raft, after all. Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don’t. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft.” This proves that in Huck’s eyes raft is home, where he is happiest and feels the most alive.

The final place that is a real home with a real family that Huck meets and stays with is Tom Sawyer’s Aunt Sally and Uncle Silas. This is another wealthy family with kind people, and they even treat their slaves well. Uncle Silas and Aunt Sally’s family is the most relatable and closest to “home” of all the houses that Huck stays with, on his journey, because he pretends to be their nephew Tom. One of the main reasons that Huck does not feel at home here is because he is not free. He is expected to be civilized and obey instructions. This is exhibited when Huck and Tom are stealing stuff from the Phelp’s house and then giving it to Jim. Aunt Sally does not know that is they who are doing it, but she is very unhappy that is happening because she wants civilized people who do not steal and good behavior, for those around her. This is shown when Huck describes how Aunt Sally enters the dining room when first realizing the missing things, “And when she come she was hot and red and cross, and could hardly wait for the blessing”. It is seen clearly how angry she was when her things went missing furthering the argument of her want for structure.

Home is not were always were family is, and family is not people who are blood-related to, but people that treat you like family and open their arms to you, such as Jim is to Huck and vice versa. 

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