Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn in American Literature

Throughout The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, the differences between Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn become quite evident. The two boys are almost opposites, Tom a romantic and Huck a realist. Tom is a boy with a wild imagination who likes to pretend and play games of adventure like in his romantic novels. Huck on the other hand has little faith in the things he reads and hears, he believes only what he sees and experiences. They have grown like this because of their upbringing, and the differences in their beliefs become apparent during their interaction with each other.

Tom is not mentioned throughout most of the novel until the concluding chapters when he reappears on the Phelps farm. The contrast between Tom and Huck is proven clearly throughout these chapters. When the two boys are reunited they decide to think up a plan for stealing Jim back. Huck comes up with a simple, realistic approach that would safely bring Jim out of captivity, but Tom immediately rejects his plan.

But its too blame simple; there aint nothing to it. What’s the good of a plan that aint no more trouble than that? Its as mild as goose milk. Why, Huck, it wouldn’t make no more talk than breaking into a soap factory (176). Toms outlandish plan has much more style and he assures Huck that it will free Jim from slavery. Huck being a realist doesn’t understand the need for danger but he was satisfied, it would make Jim just as free a man as mine would, and maybe get us all killed besides (176).

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Tom takes control over Huck and convinces him that they must free Jim by the books, not taking into consideration whether he is uncomfortable or suffering. Tom is only interested in the adventure of the scheme, where as Huck is mainly concerned about freeing Jim. The contrast between Hucks levelheaded realism and Toms romantic nonsense is demonstrated as the boys prepare Jim for the escape.

As Tom uses his wide reading to plan a proper breakout Huck keeps suggesting quick and easy ways of getting Jim loose. Tom insists upon acting like the romantics heroes from his books, Huck, you dont ever seem to want to do anything thats regular (181). Tom persuades Huck into joining his fantasy and they execute eccentric plans to make ready Jim for his escape. Tom demands that Huck steal sheets to construct a ladder, even though theres nothing Jim could possible climb. He convinces Huck into robbing a shirt, so Jim can keep a dairy using his blood, even though he cannot read or write. He also drives Huck into swindling knives to dig Jim out with, even though there are picks and shovels near by. By time the boys have finished carrying on with Toms foolish adventure Jim could have easily escaped with out any trouble. But as Tom believes You got to invent all the difficulties (180). The discrepancy in Tom and Hucks’s beliefs are also apparent in the carrying out of their deeds. Tom is determined to make Jims escape follow all the rules hes learned from his adventure books. Huck is not troubled by the rules of books or civilization, Picks is the thing, moral or no moral; and as for me, I don’t care shucks the morality of it, nohow.

When I start to steal a niggerwhat I want is my niggerand I dont give a dead rat what the authorities think about it nuther (186). He has no concern for what society thinks he will achieve what he feels right in his heart, to set Jim free. Tom, a refined boy of an upright culture acts as hes been taught from books and society. Nor I wouldnt stand by and see the rules broke because right is right, and wrong is wrong (186). When Tom and Huck are paired together their differences stand out quite clearly. These distinctions are best illustrated in the final chapters in which Toms overbearing imagination turns Jims escape into a silly adventure story, endangering the lives of those involved. Tom is a romantic, forever seeking adventure without considering the cost to him or others. Huck adversely takes a simple, realistic approach to life, he must follow the instruct of his feeling because he has no way of knowing what is right.

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Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn in American Literature. (2022, Sep 29). Retrieved from

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