The Raft in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Lauren has taught intermediate reading in an English Language Institute, and she has her Master’s degree in Linguistics.

In ”Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” there are sometimes objects that serve the plot as well as the characters. In this lesson, you’ll learn how the raft serves as a plot device.

The Raft

The raft in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is one of the objects that stays with Huck and Jim the longest. Throughout its part of the novel, the raft serves as a plot device. In many cases it literally moves the story along by carrying Huck and Jim down the river, away from one adventure and towards another. It often serves a more active role as well. It sometimes strands them, forcing them into a story line they might otherwise have avoided, or it might provide a quick escape route from dangerous situations.

Initially, while they are on the first island, Huck and Jim have only the canoe that Huck stole from his father. While on that island, though, they catch a raft which is about twelve by fifteen feet. This is obviously much bigger than their canoe, which provides a lot more potential. The raft allows them to build a shelter on it to keep their things dry and to hide in. The size also helps the raft function as a plot device, as you’ll see later on.

Huck and Jim on the raft

Adding to the Adventure

The first time we see the raft acting as something other than transportation is when Huck and Jim come across the wreck of the Walter Scott. When on board the wreck, Huck hears thieves discussing the murder of one of their fellow thieves. He quickly heads back to where the raft was to try and escape, only to find it’s broken away. He and Jim are stranded with the murderers. Eventually they do find the raft again, but losing it briefly proves positive: in the thieves’ boat they find blankets, clothes, and other necessities. In this way the raft provides extra suspense and helps get them needed supplies.

The raft gets them into trouble later. It is hit by a steamboat, forcing Jim and Huck onto shore. This allows the whole subplot with the Grangerfords and the Shepherdsons to occur. Another type of transportation might not have had this issue, so the raft once again serves to get Jim and Huck into adventures and move the plot along.

Adding to the Plot

The size of the raft also serves as a plot device. Had Jim and Huck been in the canoe the whole time, they would not have been able to take on the Duke and the Dauphin. This is a long-lasting storyline, spanning a good portion of the latter half of the book. Without the raft, it would never have occurred. So here the raft clearly serves as a plot device, literally making a huge storyline possible.

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If the raft had been a boat, Huck and Jim would have been able to escape the Duke and the Dauphin after the incident at the Wilks’ house. As it is, the old men catch up with them, and the storyline concerning the four of them continues. This eventually leads to Jim being sold to the Phelps’, which in turn moves the plot along to what might be considered its climax and later, its resolution.

A Raft for Escape and Safety

The raft works to get Huck and Jim out of trouble almost as often as it gets them into it. For example, even though it causes the trouble on the Walter Scott, it shows up again later to get them out of it. Finding it allows them to abandon the thieves’ boat, which might have caused trouble later on. It also gets them out of the trouble with the Grangerford/Shepherdson feud. It isn’t completely destroyed when the steamboat hits it. This allows Jim to fix it and provides them with an escape route when the feud comes to a head and things get really dangerous.

Finally, it also provides a safe haven for Jim. Having both it and the canoe allows Huck to scout ahead when they reach a town and keep Jim from being caught by slavers. Since it is big enough to hold a shelter, it also provides Jim with a place to hide when they land if they pass populated areas or sections of the river with heavy traffic.

The Meaning of the Raft

It is interesting to note that the raft only serves Jim and Huck while they are together. They don’t find the raft until they’ve already joined up. Later, when Jim is captured, the raft basically falls out of the picture. Huck uses it to get to the shore so he can go find Jim, and then it is never really mentioned again in any significant way. Clearly, then, the raft in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is more than just a means of transportation. It gets Jim and Huck into and out of many scrapes, and in many ways represents their time traveling together, symbolizing the powerful bond of friendship between them.

Lesson Summary

The raft in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn serves many purposes other than simple transportation. It literally moves the plot along, carrying Jim and Huck from one adventure to the next. It also directly causes them to get into a number of interesting situations and helps them escape from just as many. It serves Jim and Huck, and the novel itself very well, keeping them and the plot moving from place to place. In addition, the raft symbolizes the friendship between Huck and Jim, as the raft is really only a presence when they are together in the novel.

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Home Video Trailer from Warner Home Video

Intent on seeing the Cahulawassee River before it’s dammed and turned into a lake, outdoor fanatic Lewis Medlock takes his friends on a canoeing trip they’ll never forget into the dangerous . Read all Intent on seeing the Cahulawassee River before it’s dammed and turned into a lake, outdoor fanatic Lewis Medlock takes his friends on a canoeing trip they’ll never forget into the dangerous American back-country. Intent on seeing the Cahulawassee River before it’s dammed and turned into a lake, outdoor fanatic Lewis Medlock takes his friends on a canoeing trip they’ll never forget into the dangerous American back-country.

  • Director
    (screenplay) (additional dialogue)
  • Director
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  • 3 wins & 15 nominations total

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Did you know

While filming the white water canoeing scene, Ned Beatty was thrown overboard and was sucked under by a whirlpool. A production assistant dove in to save him, but he didn’t surface for thirty seconds. Sir John Boorman asked Beatty, “How did you feel?”, and Beatty responded, “I thought I was going to drown, and the first thought was, how will John finish the film without me? And my second thought was, I bet the bastard will find a way!”

When Lewis lays on the rocks after breaking his leg, the flesh and bone sticking out of his leg change between shots.

Lewis: Sometimes you have to lose yourself ‘fore you can find anything.

The end credits only show the cast and a notice of where the location of the film was shot and the special thanks, which rolls over a shot of Ed and his wife laying down trying to sleep. It also shows the shot of the lake where the hand ascended up out of the water and the final credit reads ‘Distributed by WARNER BROS’

The original UK cinema version suffered minor BBFC cuts which includes the removal of two lines of dialogue said by the toothless man when threatening Ed after the rape scene, “He got a real pretty mouth, ain’t he?” and “You got to do some praying for me boy, you better pray real good.” And the death of the Mountain man where he is seen struggling with the arrow through his chest was reduced. All later video releases were uncut.

Duelling Banjos
Written by Arthur Smith (uncredited)
Arranged and played by Eric Weissberg with Steve Mandell

User reviews 457

After having seen Deliverance, movies like Pulp Fiction don’t seem so extreme. Maybe by today’s blood and bullets standards it doesn’t seem so edgy, but if you think that this was 1972 and that the movie has a truly sinister core then it makes you think differently.

When I started watching this movie nothing really seemed unusual until I got to the “Dueling Banjos” scene. In that scene the brutality and edge of this film is truly visible. As I watched Drew(Ronny Cox,Robocop)go head to head with a seemingly retarted young boy it really shows how edgy this movies can get. When you think that the kid has a small banjo, which he could of probably made by hand, compared to Drew’s nice expensive guitar, you really figure out just how out of their territory the four men are.

As the plot goes it’s very believable and never stretches past its limits. But what really distinguishes this film, about four business men who get more than they bargained for on a canoe trip, is that director John Boorman(Excalibur) breaks all the characters away from plain caricatures or stereotypes. So as the movie goes into full horror and suspense I really cared about all four men and what would happen to them.

The acting is universally excellent. With Jon Voight(Midnight Cowboy, Enemy of the State) and Burt Reynolds(Boogie Nights, Striptease) leading the great cast. Jon Voight does probably the hardest thing of all in this film and that is making his transformation from family man to warrior very believable. Unlike Reynolds whose character is a warrior from the start, Voight’s character transforms over the course of the movie. Ned Beatty(Life) is also good in an extremely hard role, come on getting raped by a hillbilly, while Ronny Cox turns in a believable performance.

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One thing that really made this movies powerful for me is that the villains were as terrifying as any I had ever seen. Bill Mckinney and Herbert “Cowboy” Coward were excellent and extremely frightening as the hillbilly’s.

Overall Deliverance was excellent and I suggest it to anyone, except for people with weak stomachs and kids. 10/10. See this movie.

Deliverance Ending Explained: Did Drew Really Get Shot In The End?

‘Deliverance’ ending explained: Read further and check out if Drew really got shot in the film and what was the real reason for his death.

Deliverance ending explained

Deliverance is an American thriller released in the year 1972. Helmed by John Boorman, the film stars Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox. Deliverance is based on James Dicke’s novel of the same name, released in 1970. The thriller flick was a critically acclaimed film and a box office success at that time. Read below to know the story and the ending of Deliverance.

Deliverance ending explained

Towards the end, Drew, played by Ronny Cox is the only one who does not come out of the canoe trip alive. Lewis played by Burt Reynolds alleges that Drew was shot out of the canoe. However, Ed (Jon Voight) finds his body further down the river and with no deep wounds that clearly indicates that he committed suicide by drowning.

Lewis slips out of the canoe and severely damages his leg. Ed has been injured with an arrow stabbed through his rib while firing another arrow at a hillbilly. Meanwhile, Bobby (Ned Beatty) comes out uninjured. In the end, Bobby and Ed part their ways and return to their families while Lewis stays back at the hospital. In the final scene, Ed wakes up from a nightmare in which he sees a hand rising from the lake. His wife shushes him, calms him down, and tells him to go back to sleep.

More about Deliverance

This was a debut film for Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox. Deliverance earned three Academy Award nominations and five Golden Globe Award nominations. The thriller is famously known for a scene, the music scene in the beginning, where one of the city men can be seen playing Dueling Banjos on guitar with a banjo-strumming country boy. In 2008, Deliverance was selected for conservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.

As per reports, Deliverance was a box office success in the United States. It also became the fifth-highest grossing film of 1972, with a domestic box office collection of over $46 million. The film’s financial success continued the following year.




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