The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, is a story of a young man who finds himself in many unpredictable situations. In the novel, Huck is constantly changing his setting. Either he is on the land, at the shore of the mighty Mississippi river, or upon a small raft floating downstream. Since Huck lives on both the shore and the river, the reader is able to compare the differences between them. To Huck the river has sense of freedom.

Compared to life on the shore, Huck believes the river should be his home. For his companion, the runaway slave, Jim, life is always dangerous because of the price on his head. Also there are always hidden hazards that can pop up at any time. Huck Finn, the son of the town drunkard, has had a hard time living with the Widow Douglas and her sister, Miss Watson.

Huck grew up living wild out in the open, just going as he pleased. Now he living in a house, with two ladies that are very strict with manners. Although, he doesn't runaway back to the woods, he still wishes he could go back to the easy living in the uncivilized outdoors. When Huck's father learns of his wealth, he kidnaps Huck, and takes him back to a cabin on the other side of the river. After repeated beatings Huck escapes and makes the scene look as if he had been murdered.

He then hides on Jackson Island, and returns to his life of freedom. Also on the Island is Jim, Miss Watson's runaway slave. After finding out that the men of the town are searching for Jim, the two load up on a raft and sail down the river. Huck's life has changed very drastically through these course of events. When he was living in town he learned manners, and how to be civilized. Now he is floating peacefully down the Mississippi River without a care in the world.

For Jim, life on the river is always threatening. They must travel at night, and hide during the days. Jim's plan is to go to the Ohio river, and travel north into the free states. One night, in a storm they float past Cairo and cannot sail back upstream, to the Ohio. Jim's secret is put in jeopardy, when two frauds, are picked up by Huck. They ask Huck about the presence of Jim, on the raft, but Huck is very clever with his answer.

Huck assures them that a runaway slave would never go south, and the frauds are satisfied with his answer. The frauds are always looking for a way to get a fast buck. There is no doubt they would have sold Jim right then and there if it hadn't been for Huck's fast thinking. One day, one of the frauds goes ashore and sells Jim as a runaway slave. Even though Huck and Jim were careful not to reveal the secret, Jim is sold anyway. Life on the river compared to the shore is very different.

There are always dangers that need to be looked out for on the river, some of which can not be avoided. The storm that prevented them from getting to the Ohio river, was an obstacle that changed the outcome of the whole story. Some perils can be eluded, such as when the raft ran into a steamship. They did not mean to hit, the boat, but it could have been prevented. As many dangers exist on the water, their is just as many on the land. Since Huck has picked up the two crooks, he is regularly encountering violence.

Mobs run them out of town, and then the two are tarred and feathered. Earlier, Huck's pap beat him, so he confronted many violent actions. Life was hard for Huck and Jim, no matter where they were. Even though the river seemed to have more freedoms, there still were dangers, that could pop up at any time. For Jim, he had to continually hide, so he couldn't go to the shore, because he might get caught. Huck neither wanted to conform to society nor live with the constant violence he continually saw.

For Huck a life away from the civilized world was the best, and the river gave him his best chance at this ideal life..