Mark Twain used the contrast between the characters of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn to illustrate a romantic and realistic imagination. Tom is spectacularly imaginative in the boyish, romantic sense. Tom has filled his head with romantic adventure novels and ideas; this has shaped Tom’s worldview and feeds his fantasies, which he is constantly trying to act out. After reading about gangs and highwaymen, Tom decides to build a gang wishing to rob people and become successful highwayman. Tom’s gang would kill or ransom the men and get the women to love them.
Often times Tom’s romantic imagination is not just silly, but downright dangerous. An example of this dangerous romantic imagination was when Huck wanted to free Jim and Tom was enlisted to help. Tom, knowing full well that Ms. Watson had released Jim prior to her death, did not disclose this information to Huck; he wanted to have an adventure helping Jim “escape”. During the elaborate escape, Tom wanted Jim to train animals in his prison and have a coat of arms. Tom also sent Jim’s captors warning of the upcoming escape attempt. Tom didn’t know of the necessity to get Jim out now and not later.
Because of Tom’s dawdling, Jim’s life was put in danger when they finally did escape. As they were running away, bounty hunters were chasing them and shooting at them. Knowing the reader would be in need of a breathe of fresh air between Tom’s elaborate schemes, Twain created Huck. Huck’s desires are indeed remarkably few and simple. Huck wanted only to be wild and free. Huck often escaped from Ms. Watson by running to the woods and going exploring. Ms. Watson tried to “sivilize” him, but he didn’t like to learn about dead people or other such “nonsense”.
He saw no point to education other than to spite his father. Huck would rather be out fishing or playing in the woods. The final, and best, example of Huck’s desire to be free was the ending line in the book. “I reckon I got to light out for the territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can’t stand it. I been there before. ” Huck hates to be oppressed by society and their views on life. This opinion reflects on Huck’s own realistic attitude and how it allows him to view people as equal.
Huck’s realistic view on life is evident when he tears up the letter he had written to Ms. Watson about helping Jim escape. He began to remember all of the times Jim had been at his side, being a father figure to him; He realized how they had suffered together and had fun together, Huck was not about to turn his own brother in because of his skin color. Huck tore up the letter and said he’d rather go to hell than to betray his friend. By reading about Huck and Tom and their contrasting views on life, allows the reader to have a breathe of fresh air in between the elaborate schemes of Tom.