Tom Sawyer's best friend is Huckleberry Finn, a preteen social outcast who lives free of civilized constraints and rules. Most of the children envy Huck's liberty, even thought it comes with a price: Huck's father is the local alcoholic and so he has no parent to look after or discipline him.
The two friends are both orphans and share a love of mischief, but otherwise, they are polar opposites. Tom has a stable home life with someone to care for him, while Huck must fend for himself, often sleeping in barns or scavenging for his next meal. Tom has been educated, while Huck is not educated at all. Tom has been conditioned by his upbringing and all the moral baggage that implies, while Huck is often unbothered by his conscience or what society deems to be proper behavior.
Despite this big disparity in lifestyles, the two boys mutually admire one another: Tom wishes he could live free as Huck does, and Huck admires Tom's knowledge and imagination. Even though the adults in town disapprove of Tom's association with Huck (his teacher whips him as punishment for even talking with Huck), Tom continues to spend time with him and the two remain good friends.