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What contrast between Huck and Tom is established in Huckleberry Finn, and what is the...

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pinky159 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 5, 2008 at 11:25 AM via web

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What contrast between Huck and Tom is established in Huckleberry Finn, and what is the irony in Pap's fury about the educated black man?

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 6, 2008 at 3:41 AM (Answer #1)

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The main difference between the two boys is that Huck is more of a realist and Tom is an idealist.  Huck is simple, uneducated, full of common sense and adventure, and a reluctant reader.  Tom love to embellish things (his plans for helping Jim escape and his "gang" are two good examples), he has gone to school regularly since he comes from a more stable family than Huck, and he loves to read (which is where his romantic, idealist views come from mostly).

Tom also is adamant about the place of the black man in society, whereas Huck's views change on this subject based on his time with Jim on the raft.  Had Tom not known that Jim had already been set free in the Widow's will, he would never have agreed to help Jim escape from his captivity at the Phelps' farm.

The irony of Pap's ire over the educated black man is that the black man can easily be seen as Pap's superior based on his ability to speak so many languages and his sophistication.  However, Pap fails to see past the man's skin color.  Therefore, Pap sees the black man as beneath him on the social ladder regardless of Pap's unpolished appearance, lack of education, and drunken behavior.

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