At the beginning of the story, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck is constantly under the influence of a mother figure. That mother figure makes him feel guilty when he does something wrong, rewards him when he does something right, and also serves as a kind of protector of him. Although Huck does not realize it, he is always being looked after by something or other. At one point it’s the widow, and throughout most of the story it’s the river.
In the story, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the river becomes a provider of food, transportation, and refuge, metaphorically taking over the role as his mother when he runs away with Jim. At the beginning of the story, the Widow takes Huck under her wing and tries to teach him right from wrong. She makes him wear nice clothes, go to school, and say his daily prayers. Throughout his stay with the widow, Huck does not respond to the widow’s ways of teaching very well. When the widow asks Huck to do something, he does it, however, begrudgingly.
She tries to teach Huck to become a gentleman and treats him as if he were her own son. When Tom Sawyer comes back into the picture, the widow takes on the motherly role of disapproval. She does not like the way Tom acts and makes believe all the time. This is why, rather than asking to see Tom, Huck usually snuck out when she did not know. The widow can not act as Huck’s mother for long though, because Huck is kidnapped by his father and fakes his own death to get away from everybody.
After Huck’s “death,” he escapes to the river where he hides out on an island while his friends and family are searching for his body. During this time the river, without Huck realizing it, kind of takes over the role of mother. It provides protection from the elements when rain hits. It also hides Huck as the steamboat sails past with all his friends and family on board. Huck does not want the people to see him, or they will know he was just faking and will take him back to the life he is not fond of. Knowing this, Huck hides in the bushes and trees that grow along the river.
When a mother knows that its child is in danger, she will hide it from the world so that it won’t get hurt. The river shows this motherly trait to Huck. The first thing a mother does for its child when it is a newborn, is to feed it. While Huck is a runaway, he needs food for survival. The river, in a way, provides this when Huck finds a loaf of bread floating down the river. Also later on in the story, Huck and Jim happen upon a house boat where they find many different types of fruit among other things.