In the epic novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, written by Mark Twain, he uses the river to portray the gradual establishment of the relationship between Huck and Jim, which also shows the ugly side of the society by illustrating multiple frauds outside the river. He does this by depicting numerous antagonists that tremendously affect the protagonist of the novel. The river works as a place for the growth of Huck’s maturity as the story reaches its climax. As the river shows a peaceful and harmonious environment, settings excluding the river give a way to glimpse the duplicity of the people.
The river, which covers most of the setting of the book, is exhibited as a tranquil environment, in which the two characters starts to establish a father and son relationship during their adventure on the stream of hope. Huck treats Jim in a very ill mannered way by elaborating several deceptions to deceive him at the beginning of the book since he viewed Jim as a slave. An example of this is when these two characters were temporarily separated at the river because of the fog. When Huck and Jim reunite, Huck decides to trick Jim that they were never separated and that it was all a dream. Huck affirms, "Well, this is too many for me, Jim. I hain't seen no fog, nor no islands, nor no troubles, nor nothing. I been setting here talking with you all night till you went to sleep about ten minutes ago, and I reckon I done the same. You couldn't a got drunk in that time, so of course you've been dreaming (182).” Although Huck may not want to send Jim back to slavery, the fact that he tricked Jim even though he greeted Huck in hospitality shows that Jim is still kept as a lower class in Huck’s moral scale.
Huck’s view of Jim gradually alters in an optimistic behavior as their adventure at the river progresses. The author describes Huck’s inner feeling, “I was ever so glad to see Jim. I warn't lonesome now. (154).” This quotation shows Huck’s enchantment of seeing Jim which proves that Huck’s view of point toward Jim is changing in a positive behavior. Since Jim and Huck have a substantial age gap, Jim is portrayed as a father like figure. Huck portrays his view point toward Jim, “I'd see him standing my watch on top of his'n, 'stead of calling me, so I could go on sleeping; and see him how glad he was when I come back out of the fog; and when I come to him again in the swamp, up there where the feud was; and such-like times; and would always call me honey (262).” This quotation describes his gratitude for having Jim, recalling all the past memories he had with Jim from the beginning of the book till the end. The quotation also shows how Jim is both a friend and a father figure to Huck. The fact that Huck remembers every detail of memories he had with Jim also demonstrates his loyalty and the true friendship with Jim.
The river has another important aspect throughout the story of showing the ugly side of society as these two characters face the conflicts and obstacles of the outside world. When Huck goes to Mrs. Loftus' house disguising him as a girl, the author describes the two faces of society in Mrs. Loftus’ speech, “I was pretty near certain I'd seen smoke over there, about the head of the island, a day or two before that, so I says to myself, like as not that nigger's hiding over there; anyway,…