Illustration of a man on a dock facing the water

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

by Mark Twain
Start Free Trial

Given Tom's actions and the motivations in Chapter 42, what might Mark Twain intend for Tom to represent in the novel?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In this chapter, we see how Tom helps Huck free Jim. Tom makes up an elaborate story about how it was he and Huck that freed Jim from Miss Watson. He makes this up so that the family will not think that Jim is an escaped black man. Then Tom tells Aunt Sally and Aunt Polly that Miss Watson has died and has freed Jim in her will. The aunts want to know why Tom went through the elaborate escapade to free Jim if he knew this, and they almost catch Tom, but Tom quickly recovers telling them that he and Huck did it "for the adventure of it."

Throughout the novel, where Tom appears, whether he is really there or Huck is just talking about him, Tom is presented as a foil to Huck. Tom represents the civilized society from which Huck is trying to escape. Tom's complicated "adventures" are symbolic of the often meaningless mores of society, mores that would allow for such evils as slavery.

Read about it here on eNotes.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team