In Mark Twain’s novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, very distinct and specific themes emerge that are related to the novel. These particular themes are timeless and readers can relate to them very well.

            One main theme throughout the novel is that of friendship. Specifically, Twain focuses on the unique friendship that develops between Huck and Jim. Nobody in the South thought that it was right to be friends with blacks or even get involved with slaves. The whites didn’t like slaves at all. But, Huck saw past that “rule” and became friends with Jim when he helped Jim escape from Miss Watson’s house to try to flee a life of slavery. Huck wanted to be free from the clutches of Miss Watson. Jim was a slave on Miss Watson’s plantation. Jim helped Huck escape and they both ran away to a nearby island together. Huck never really had any true friends before Jim, but the time spent with him allowed the two of them to become very close. Huck and Jim did everything together; they were inseparable. Huck sees past the slave issue and realized that blacks are just as deserving of equality as whites. Blacks have the same thoughts and feelings as everyone else. Blacks are just the same as whites, they are no different and shouldn’t be treated differently either. Huck proves that he sees Jim as an equal, but is still influenced by his racist upbringing when he says, “I knowed he was white inside” (Twain 78).

            Other major themes in the novel are racism and slavery in the South. Slavery places Jim under the control of the white society. Most of the whites during this time in history did not like slaves and looked at them as workers only, nothing more. Jim had to face and deal with racism everyday of his life. Like Huck said, “By and by they fetched the niggers in and had prayers, and then everybody was off to bed” (Twain 3). This shows that the whites were only worried about getting their slaves in and working on their plantations. They didn’t care about anything else. Jim constantly struggled for freedom from slavery. Although Twain attacks slavery through the portrayal of Jim, he never really addresses the issue. Twain encourages the reader to feel sympathy for Jim and outrage at the society that has enslaved him and threatened his life. This is presented from the very beginning of the novel when Twain begins to talk about Jim and slavery. Jim had to face and deal with the aspects of racism. Jim eventually escaped from the reigns of his owner, Miss Watson, when he and Huck ran off together to Jackson’s Island. They both wanted to be free from Miss Watson and what she made them do. Huck learned that slavery was wrong and he wanted to fix that by helping Jim escape. Nobody would think of helping slaves because it would go against the rules and beliefs of society, but Huck learned that black people are people too, despite the teachings of society.

            Another theme that evolves is that of the Mississippi River and what it symbolizes. The river symbolizes freedom, independence, and a change to live freely and have an adventure. Huck escapes from everything while living his life on the river. He doesn’t want to be civilized, he wants to be uncivilized and live by his own rules. He wants to live his life the way he wants to without other people telling him what to do. The river and the raft let him do that. On the raft, Huck and Jim are completely independent and can determine their own course of action. This theme manifests when he escapes and starts his adventure down the river. As one critic asserts, “The river is a safe place for the two travelers as it proves a safe haven, protesting each from that which they are escaping” ( The river and its safety also unites Huck and Jim in their common quests and resolve to keep each other safe.

            These important themes in the novel are timeless and readers can relate to them. They are very distinct and specific to the story. Without them, the ideas and messages that Twain wishes to convey wouldn’t be the same.