Before escaping on the raft with Jim and spending time away from civilization on the Mississippi River, Huck demonstrates an attunement to nature. While sitting in his room in Miss Watson’s house he looks out the window and describes nature using several instances of personification:
The stars were shining, and the leaves rustled in the woods ever so mournful; and I heard an owl, away off, who-whooing about somebody that was dead, and a whippo-will and a dog crying about somebody that was going to die; and the wind was trying to whisper something to me, and I couldn’t make out what it was, and so it made the cold shivers run over me.
Here, Huck describes leaves, owls, dogs, and the wind as if they have human qualities, such as the ability to whisper and mourn the dead. With these descriptions, Twain establishes that nature can be both comforting to Huck—he is intentionally spending time looking out the window, after all—and also scary. He wants to be free away from Miss Watson’s attempts to “sivilize” him, and yet nature does not guarantee safety.
Huck’s close attention to nature—and his ability to, seemingly, communicate with it—also foreshadows the time that he will spend out in nature throughout the rest of the novel, and all the ways nature will comfort and unsettle him once he begins his journey down the Mississippi River.