Huck begins searching for an identity which is truly his own. In determining his self image, Huck deals with conforming to the social norms and freedom, trying on different identities that do not belong to him, and shaping these new found tributes into an identity which best suits his conscience.
Throughout the book, Huck rejects “sivilized” life because he has no reason for it. All that civilization has brought for him was bad things. He meets many people and they all try to influence him to change his ways to what they see is right. Pretty soon, he does not want to deal with any of it and just wants to live a life of adventure and fun. The novel begins with Huck under the care of Widow Douglas as “she took me for her son, and allowed that she would civilize me; but it was rough living in the house all the time.” p. 11 Huck has become so used to being free that he sees the Widow Douglas” protection solely in terms of confinement. He finds this impossible because he loses his freedom amongst “the bars and shackles of civilization.” Huck feels that he belongs out under the stars where the community cannot tell him what to do. His drunken and often missing father has never paid much attention to him; his mother is dead and so, when the novel begins, Huck is not used to following any rules.
At the beginning of the book, Huck is living with the Widow Douglas and her sister, Miss Watson. Both women are fairly old and are really incapable of raising a rebellious boy like Huck Finn. They attempt to make Huck into what they believe will be a better boy, as Huck says, to “sivilize” him. They do this by making Huck go to school, teaching him about different religions, and making him act in a way that the women find socially acceptable, which means no more smoking. Huck, who has never had to follow many rules in his life, finds the demands the women place upon him constraining and the life with them lonely.
As a result, soon after he first moves in with them, he runs away. He soon comes back, but, even though he becomes somewhat comfortable with his new life as the months go by, Huck never really enjoys the life of manners, religion, and education that the Widow and Miss Watson impose upon him. They represent everything in society that Huck hates. Pap is Huck’s usually drunk father. His abusive nature is the driving force for Huck as he flees down the river.
Pap himself is illiterate, nonconforming, and oppressive. He never pays any attention to Huck and does not take responsibility for his own son. He lets Huck do pretty much whatever he wants, and he abuses Huck. Huck did not go to school, had no manners, and dressed like a scrub. So when he ended up living with Miss Watson and Widow Douglas, he could not stand being controlled.
He did not want to live a “sivilized” life like every other person in the country. He preferred freedom of wilderness and adventure to the restriction of society and its norms. Huck”s acceptance of Jim is a total defiance of society. Jim is Miss Watson’s slave and runs away because she is going to sell him.
By Jim being an African American, he has to deal with racial issues. People in their society are not accepting of people of different skin colors. When Huck is with Jim, he is having fun. He would rather live a life of adventure than going to school. He has the freedom that he is used to having when living in the woods with Jim. No one is controlling his life the way Miss Watson and Pap have done in the past.
Huck believes he is committing a sin by going against society and protecting Jim. He does not realize that his own instincts are more morally correct than those of society. As Huck drifts down the river on his raft, he begins to look for himself. He attempts to slip into the identities of others to experience things in a different way than they normally would be. Huck”s longing for freedom is his only self desire. His freedom requires that he find a conscious, moral identity. He must discover his true self and know himself as a person and as an individual in order to be free. Life is full of unexpected circumstances.
People are forced to face these situations that are sometimes unfortunate. Some run away from their problems, while others are strong enough to face them. Their strength to face life”s struggles comes from their valuable morals that guide their choices. Throughout this journey, Huck encounters many different situations in which he learns to adapt and react to each in a way that he feels is suitable. Huck learns about life and the real world. He then gathers what he has learned and combines it into an identity which suits him. This enables him to create a conscience with which he finds himself comfortable and at ease.