What is the difference between The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer?

The difference between The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is that the latter features more social commentary.

Expert Answers

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

The difference between The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn largely lies in its two lead characters. While both Tom and Huck are mischievous young boys, they come from different worlds and live accordingly. Tom comes from a stable home while Huck has no home at all. Tom is a conformist to the core: even when he comes up with fanciful schemes, they must be exactly like the adventure novels he got them from. By contrast, Huck refuses to conform to any standard, being a social outsider.

Because Huck is a social outcast, the novel featuring his name naturally carries more thematic weight regarding society itself. Standing outside of the civilized world, Huck is able to comment on it in a way that an insider like Tom never could. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn touches upon child abuse, poverty, racism, and slavery, giving the book a bit more food for thought than the simpler Tom Sawyer. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is considered Mark Twain's masterpiece because of the way it blends the comedic children's content of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer with more sophisticated cultural commentary. The presence of those additional messages is likely the biggest difference between the two novels.

Last Reviewed by eNotes Editorial on