The revelation at the novel’s end that Tom has known all along that Jim is a free man is startling. Is Tom inexcusably cruel? Or is he just being a normal thirteen-year-old boy?
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It certainly does. What attracts to Tom (especially in Tom Sawyer) is his child like honest rebellion. By the end of Tom Sawyer we see a more mature boy. Unfortunately his maturity comes with a certain conformity to white culture of the South. This is made even more problematic by the fact that it is a rather cruel joke played on Jim.