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Tom loves adventure and drama, but he is also an entrepreneur of sorts. When he sees a win-win situation that he can capitalize on, he'll follow through with it. He demonstrates here the American spirit of pulling oneself up by his own boot straps and getting along in the world alone.
He is also caught between what he feels to be right (slavery is wrong) and what society is telling him at the time. He knows Jim is a slave who must follow the laws of the land, but he also identifies with Jim's situation of wanting to be free from rules.
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