In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer are two young boys growing up in the "Pre-war South." Tom, known for "playing it by the books" has a very extravagant outlook on life. Huck on the other hand is the more conservative of the two and has a realistic attitude. Their friendship is based on their ability to play off each other's contrasting personalities. The opposing characteristics of both young men coming together is what makes this story what it is.
A great example of their contrasting ways of thinking is in their differing approaches to rescue Jim from his imprisonment. Huck plans to simply steal the key, get Jim out, run to the canoe, and escape down the river on the raft. Huck's plan to get Jim out of captivity is straightforward, simple, and effective. Tom, however, complains that "its too blame simple," and that "there ain't nothing to it"(page 224).
Tom's plan is complicated and full of unnecessary additions because of his stubborn adherence to the romantic scenarios that he reads in his novels. He unnecessarily invents hard rock to dig through, a tall tower to climb down from, an infested cell full of rats, spiders, and snakes, and a high security situation. Huck, seeing no logic or practicality in Tom's plan, questions these highly unnecessary notions. Huck's realistic mind could not understand Tom's romantic nature and he disagrees with Tom's decisions on numerous occasions.
Tom Sawyer is the "leader of the gang." He is outspoken and very adventurous. He plays the role of the romantic, which is a key factor here because it conflicts with Huck's literal approach. When Huck was faced with the decision of whether or not to free Jim, he thinks back to what he has been taught.