Mr. Dan Daugherty
5 May 2015
Is Free, Free Indeed?
Rabindranath Tagore, Nobel Prize winner in Literature, said, “Love does not claim possession, but gives freedom.” (Tagore Poems) This idea directly correlates with Mark Twain’s novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, in which Huck hated the freedom of education given to him by Miss Watson and Widow Douglas. Yet when his pap kidnapped him and kept him locked up, he enjoyed the freedom of not having to work and just laying around all day. That eventually became old, so he decided to run away, only to accidentally run into Jim, Miss Watson’s runaway slave. While floating down the river, they met two con-men who claimed to be a king and a duke. Even though Huck knew that the men were lying and was on his own quest for freedom, he and Jim willingly submitted to their “authority”. When the King sold Jim back into slavery in Arkansas, Huck was furious and resolved to give up everything, including potential eternity in heaven in order to free Jim. After Huck and his friend Tom finally freed Jim, he ended up giving himself up and losing his freedom in order to help save Tom’s life. Tom survived, and when he was well enough, he told everyone what happened and that Jim had been free all along. Miss Watson granted Jim his freedom, even though in the eyes of society, a runaway slave did not deserve it. Throughout this book, “the moral center” was Huck’s and Jim’s quest to both find freedom and to learn what freedom really was. (Ralph Ellison, Blues XV) Twain, a renowned author and humorist, points out in this book two kinds of freedom, the kind freely-given and self-asserted freedom. Of these two opposite views, in the end the only loving, truly satisfying, and peaceful freedom is that which is given freely, to and from others.
Mark Twain presents true freedom as lovingly and freely given or given up through both Huck and Jim. This revolutionary love is most clearly shown through “Huck’s act of helping to rescue Jim”. (Robert O’Meally XVI) When Huck found out that Jim was sold back into slavery, it was the only time in the entire novel that Huck was truly furious. After debating whether to free Jim or “go with society” and leave Jim a slave, Huck came to a decision that appeared difficult, but not when the person in question was a close friend. Huck willingly gave up everything, even though a consequence for freeing Jim was, “eternal damnation for violating the norms of society.” (Blount Jr. 5) Huck determined he would give up everything, socially and spiritually, for a “nigger.” Huck’s willingness to free Jim was “a profound expression of love.” (O’Meally XXVI) Jim understood freedom given from love even more then Huck. Jim gave the freedom that he and Huck had fought so hard to gain, and possibly that of his family as well. He gave it all up for Tom, Huck’s friend who made it so much more difficult to escape, and kept the fact that Jim had been free all along from everyone for the sport of it. When Miss Watson freed Jim in her will, despite society’s opposition, was a huge act of grace. One aspect of true freedom is giving or receiving freedom because of love, no matter the cost, just as Christ did for the world. This love shown through freedom is what Huckleberry Finn is really about.
Whenever Huck and Jim tried to take their freedom into their own hands, they were never completely satisfied, always searching for more or better freedom. Early in the novel, Huck despised the safe haven Miss Watson and Widow Douglas provided, continuing to try to run from school, work, rules, and even society. So when Pap Finn first kidnapped him, “it warn’t long after that till I was used to being where I was, and liked it – all but the cowhide part. It was kind of lazy and jolly, laying off comfortable all day, smoking and fishing, and no books nor study”. (Twain 24) Huck became tired of the situation and decided to run away by floating down the