Adventures of Huck Finn copes with the Pre-Civil war period when the nation stood on the verge of disunion. Southern morality, race and slavery thus become ones of the major themes in this novel. When Huck Finn leads Jim to run away towards the free states, he feels the shock and anxiety as a typically Southern resident who has been a product of the Southern morality: he reckons that he’s doing something wrong by leading a slave to freedom. The line between bad and good, wrong and right, blurs. Because “it’s troublesome to do right and ain’t troublesome to do wrong”, Huck Finn, however, finds it justifiable to maintain the status quo(172). The dilemma of Huck Finn also reflects the dilemma of the nation, the fight between Southern morality and the universal morality.
Some recurring motifs are “easy”, “comfortable” and “still”. Huck Finn fears motion, trouble and uneasiness: neither North nor South does not want any change for the status quo, so both sides keep compromising. Such compromises only result in major conflicts that will happen in the future, foreshadowing the Civil War.
In the time period the story is set in, “Manifest Destiny” becomes a popular term. The ideal expansion of land and civilization, however, draws Huck Finn and Jim back towards North and East. The opposite of the previous envision resonates with a quote in the introduction to Mark Twain: “Twain’s project is to debunk the sentimental idea of the West as a place where fortunes could be easily made and show its disappointing and even brutal side.” (101)
Another major theme is lie. Till chapter 21, Huck Finn has made up five fake identities with vivid and convincing stories. Mary Sarah Williams, Aleck James Hopkins, the third one without a name, George Jackson, and the last one without a name, are all created to make through hard times, which meant to help Jim not to be caught. Not even a good liar since he forgets his new time almost every time, Huck Finn’s kindness and boy’s innocence shines like a beacon in the chaos he lives in. Every story he accounts starts with his pap, which also implies the great influence his pap has exerted on his memory.
My painting depicts Huck Finn and Jim sitting on the raft naked and Huck Finn asks himself whether he is doing the right thing or wrong thing. He thinks about the harsh laws on runaway slaves (yellow bubble), Widow Watson (red bubble), and Cairo/Illinois (blue bubble). He is only confused by all of them (the combination of three colors).