Although Jim only learns about his freedom at the end of the book, in reality he has been a free man since Widow Douglas’s death two months prior. The delay in this news has important implications for the story. For one thing, it absolves Huck of some of his guilt for helping a runaway slave. More importantly, though, the delay demonstrates a fundamental difference of character between Huck and Tom. Tom delivers the news of Jim’s freedom after he and Huck have gone through all of the trouble of planning and executing Jim’s escape. Tom’s actions indicate that unlike Huck, who has grown to understand Jim’s humanity, Tom is fine with treating Jim like just another character in a fictional adventure scenario. Tom’s failure to deliver the news also ends up showcasing the strength of Jim’s character. When the escape plan goes awry and Tom gets shot in the leg, Jim gives up what may be his last chance at freedom in order to save the boy’s life.