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Down the River: "Siddhartha" and "Huckleberry Finn" Essay

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As we read Huckleberry Finn, I was also rereading Siddhartha by Herman Hesse and I couldn’t help but compare Siddhartha’s journey down the river to Huckleberry Finn’s journey down the river. Both their stories are parallels to each other and many connections can be made through their travels. To both characters, the element of the river served as a protection from the outside world. When both characters are taken by the rivers embrace, they are able to leave the limitations and constrains of their society. Siddhartha and Huck seek independence, away from their homes and away from troubles of society. Siddhartha seeks an escape from his isolation and pampered lifestyle in order to understand more about the world and gain wisdom through experience. Likewise, Huck escapes into the woods to get away from his home and his drunken father. He is imprisoned in his cabin and beaten by pap every day and so he decides to escape from his reality.
After traveling far and experiencing greed, hunger and devastation (things that he had never seen or felt, while at home)Siddhatha comes across a river which he uses to relieve his mind of the horrors of the outside world. He understands how much can be learned from the river and to him, the river represents the continuous flow of life, one that is always changing. "He then realizes that the rivers main importance is as a teacher and sacred learning center for himself and Vasudeva. He continues to learn from the river and he can learn from it because the river represents everything and within everything lays the enlightenment he has been seeking for many years as a follower of teachers. without passion, without desire, without judgment, without opinions." (87)
Like Siddhartha, Huck Finn also learn...


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... in fact frees them from their imprisonment on shore. In vivid contrast, however, Huck acknowledges the river as "miles and miles across," each and every inch of which is "still and grand" (page 28). The river is a utopia for the two friends- they don't have to answer to anyone while they float peacefully along. Instead, he is forced to constantly behave as others think he should. The river allows him to escape the shackles of limitation put on him by the dwellers of the land. For example, the fact that Huck views the land as "cramped up and smothery" (page 137) denotes the imprisonment characterized by society (societies are constantly "weeding out" the menaces to the community by imprisoning them). When the world around the river bank threatens to intrude the calm protected space that is solely theirs, it does not succeed; the river carries the two to freedom.




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