Symbolism in Huck Finn Class Discussion and Analysis

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Symbolism in Huck Finn

Discussion: Symbolism

  • Review: Symbol is a person, place, object, or activity that stands for something outside itself. It has a deeper meaning beyond its surface meaning.

  • A literary symbol takes on its meaning within the context of a particular book.

Symbols: Continued

  • In Huck Finn, much of the novel derives its power from two central symbols: the river and the shore.

The River

The River

  • For Jim, freedom is concrete--it means he would no longer be a slave and property, but a free man. He can literally float to freedom, to a state which does not allow slavery.

The River

  • For Huck, freedom is more abstract--it means he will not have to deal with the constraints of society.

    • He can get away from the burdens of having to wear formal clothes, go to school, and be beaten by his father.
  • Twain makes the river the way to achieve their goals.

The Shore

The Shore


  • What are some other symbols you can identify in the text? How are these symbols carried throughout the story?

  • How do these symbols relate to the following thematic topics:

    • Freedom vs. conformity
    • Morality: Individual vs. societal

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