Comparing Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer Essay

Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn follows a young boy named Huck through his adventures down the Mississippi River. Through the adventures and obstacles he faces and overcomes with Jim, a loyal run-away slave, Huck changes and becomes more mature. He is no longer the careless, prank playing boy that ran around and had fun at other people’s expense. Near the end of his life-changing journey down the Mississippi, Huck is reunited with his idol and close friend Tom Sawyer and these once very similar boys now have many obvious differences. Huck differs from Tom in his way of thinking, in his treatment and attitude towards Jim, and in his tendency to question his surroundings.

Huck sees and interprets the world realistically and in practical terms whereas Tom, a true romantic, believes the world operates like the stories in his books. A great example of their contrasting ways of thinking is in their differing approaches to rescue Jim from his imprisonment. Huck plans to simply steal the key, get Jim out, run to the canoe, and escape down the river on the raft. Huck’s plan to get Jim out of captivity is straightforward, simple, and effective. Tom, however, complains that “its too blame simple,” and that “there ain’t nothing to it”(224). Tom’s plan is complicated and full of unnecessary additions because of his stubborn adherence to the romantic scenarios that he reads in his novels. Tom believes there is “honor in getting [Jim] out through a lot of difficulties and dangers,”(230) and he goes out of his way to invent obstacles to make the situation more difficult and more like the stories he grew up on. He unnecessarily invents hard rock to dig through, a tall tower to climb down from, an infested …

…t the change that Huck undergoes. Without Tom, an unchanged character that Huck once modeled himself after, the reader cannot correctly judge how much Huck changed from his experiences down the river and how genuinely good Huck has become. After spending so much time with Jim and discovering Jim’s real character and personality, Huck acquire new understanding, compassion, and respect for him. He can now see past the color of his skin and treat Jim as a human being. Although he will never consider Jim as an equal, he has already taken momentous steps towards realizing that the slave institution is unjust. Huck has gone beyond anybody in his society and has become free of the limitations that the southern society has placed on thought. He has become nearly the opposite of Tom, who is the perfect embodiment of the southern lifestyle and way of thinking.

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