It's in the Contrast

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Smith - Introduction to AHF (pg:323-344)

"The new structural principle which supplants the original linear movement toward freedom is bipolar. It is a contrast between the raft--connoting freedom, security, happiness, and harmony with physical nature--and the society of the towns along the shore, connoting vulgarity and malice and fraud and greed and violence." (pg: 329)

To start, I read the first sentence of my quote and said, "WHAT?" That sentence is incredibly wordy and hard to understand. So I took extra interest in the paragraph that followed and tried to comprehend what the wordy sentence was trying to tell me. Basically, the river has double-symbolism: it shows the raft as Huck and Jim's ticket to freedom, but it also shows the banks as the evil of the world, waiting to pounce on the fugitives. They are both drawn ashore many times, and each time they face the evil. Also, each time they come back to the raft, they bring a little more evil with them. After all, the river is surrounded my two pieces of land; the evil is going to reach them eventually. Huck and Jim are traveling the road to freedom, and getting sidetracked along the way. But this non-straight path is necessary. After all, what kind of a story would it be if the raft never faltered from its path? 

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