In "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," Mark Twain suggests that the uncivilized way of life is better than the civilized way of life. Throughout the novel, Twain depicts society as a structure that has become little more than a collection of tarnished rules. In the novel, the theme of freedom versus civilization is revealed through the day-to-day life of the main character Huck Finn.
Huck Finn represents natural life through his freedom of spirit, his uncivilized ways, as well as his desire to escape from civilization. He was brought up without any rules and has an extremely strong resistance to anything that might civilize him. Huck's resistance to civilization is first introduced in the first chapter through the efforts of Widow Douglas. Widow Douglas tries to force Huck to wear new clothes, give up smoking, and to learn proper manners. Huck is not use to this kind of civilized life and the frustration of living in such a clean house and having to watch his manners starts top grow on him. Instead of obeying Widow Douglas and her rules, Huck sneaks out of the house at night to join Tom Sawyer and his friends.
Huck Finn's belief that civilization corrupts rather than improves human beings is proven when a new judge grants Pap, Huck's dad, custody of Huck. Pap is a drunk that beats Huck and is only after one thing, Huck's six thousand dollars. This leads Huck to question the justice system. He feels that the justice system lies at the heart of society's problem. Although Huck enjoys his old life, free from manners and education, he soon realizes that the judge cares more about Pap's rights to his soon over Huck's welfare. This decision shows exactly how a so-called civilized society feels about a white man's right to his property. Twain uses Pap's "ownership" of Huck to show the absurdity of a white man owning another man as his slave. Twain demonstrates how impossible it is for a society that owns slaves to be just no matter how civilized that society proclaims to be.