Symbolism, "the practice of representing things by means of symbols or of attributing symbolic meanings or significance to objects, events, or relationships" is an enticing technique that authors frequently utilize to stimulate and connect with their audience (www.dictionary.com). This practice not only fascinates the readers but also forces them to look more deeply into the message of the novel rather than what is apparent. In the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the author Mark Twain uses symbolism to portray many different concepts. The ideas of freedom, tranquility and comfort are the mindset and outlooks signified by the raft, the Mississippi River and the events that occurred on both.
The most significant symbolic undertone of the Mississippi River and the raft is definitely freedom. For Huckleberry, being on the river represents an escape from many places and feelings. He is trying to break away from conventional southern society and its racial hostility and biased beliefs. He wants to leave Widow Douglas and Miss Watson and their civilized ways, and Pap and his drunken rages. He wants to be in an environment where he feels like he can make his own decisions, have no insecurities and have no worries about racism and violence. "I was powerful glad to get away from the feuds other places seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don't. You feel mighty free and easy" (Twain, 113). The raft and river provide him with the freedom he desires. It secludes him from society and he accepts it because it is controlled by nature. It sets him free from racial profiling and it allows him to befriend a black slave, which the South would forbid.
The river and raft do similar for Jim. He is running away from Miss Watson because she is planning on selling him to a slave trader. He needs to flee slavery and find a place where he can be free. Jim knows that in the north he will be treated as more of an equal, and that's where he decides to go.