In his novel Mark Twain uses nature not only as ally, but as a deterrent in Huck Finn’s search for independence and Jim’s search for freedom. The most prominent force of nature in the novel was the Mississippi River. The river was not only their escape route, but perhaps it became their biggest enemy because it was always unpredictable. Nature is the strongest factor in the novel because in a completely different geographical setting the story would have had not only a different outcome, but Huck and Jim might never have found friendship and freedom. Twain changes his tone when describing the Mississippi River from wry and sarcastic to flowing and daydreaming. This change in tone illustrates his own appreciation for the beauty and significance that nature holds for him. Twain uses personification to show the beauty of nature in contrast to the immaturity and obnoxious mentality of society.
Huck would sometimes wake up to see a steamboat coughing along upstream that now and then would belch a whole world of sparks up out of her chimbleys which acts like a child without manners. (Twain, 81) In almost every chapter Twain uses colorful descriptions of nature to help the reader to imagine the setting of the scene. Twain would not have used so many examples and vivid descriptions of nature if he didn’t want nature to be a huge part of the novel. In the novel, Huck’s main goal is to get away from a terrible, abusive drunk of a father. Without the access of the Mississippi, Huck might not have ever escaped his father, and his father could have easily killed Huck. For Jim, who’s goal was not only freedom, but to see his family again, the river was a free way to reach the free states.
With Huck’s fortune he could have bought a train ticket or paid another way to get to Cairo, but it was important for him to make his journey with Jim. In that time a black runaway slave could not have ridden on a train or even walked on land in the light of day without being caught in a matter of minutes. Obviously, the river was an imperative part of the story for both Jim and Huck to get away without being caught. To Twain, nature was almost heaven. He describes it with much more care than that which he gives to passages about civilization. He shows the beauty of nature by using select details with connotations of peacefulness and serenity.