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(Click the character infographic to download.)
Move over, Tom: Huck has a new BFF. Buck and Huck become pals the second they meet, partly because Buck's a friendly guy:
Say, how long are you going to stay here? You got to stay always. We can just have booming times—they don't have no school now. Do you own a dog? I've got a dog—and he'll go in the river and bring out chips that you throw in. Do you like to comb up Sundays, and all that kind of foolishness? You bet I don't, but ma she makes me. Confound these ole britches! I reckon I'd better put 'em on, but I'd ruther not, it's so warm. Are you all ready? All right. Come along, old hoss. (17)
Talk about welcoming. They're so comfortable together that Buck doesn't even wear pants.
He and Huck are both adventurous (and a little violent—Buck likes to carry a gun), so Huck is especially devastated by Buck's death. The fact that they were the same age only makes the loss of his new friend all the more personal. Did you notice that the two boys' names rhyme? We're pretty sure that's not a coincidence. Huck and Buck have a sort of "long lost twin" relationship. Huck sees in Buck what his life could have been like, had he been born into a wealthy family. And he might be better off as a half-civilized river boy.