The adventure of Tom Sawyer
The adventure of Tom Sawyer is a novel by Mark Twain published in 1876.
Being one of the most well-know names of American writers in China, Mark Twain is the pseudonym of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910), who is best known for his humorous and satirical writings. The great American humorist and storyteller was born in Florida, Missouri in 1835 and brought up near a small Mississippi river town Hannibal, which serves as the model of St. Petersburg
, the idyllic town where the story of the adventure
of Tom Sawyer
unfolds. The life in the southern frontier town greatly influences the writing of Mark Twain and the story of Tom Sawyer is just the reflection of Mark Twain's childhood as the author tells us at the preface.
Tom Sawyer is the leading character of the adventure of Tom Sawyer, a mischief, imaginative yet clever boy who lives with his Aunt Polly in St. Petersburg. He is zeal for adventure and always dreaming to live a life of a pirate. The first adventure takes place accidentally when Tom and Huckleberry Finn, the lazy and free son of the town drunk, sneak to the graveyard at night. There they witness a murder by Injun Joe, who trickily makes Muff Potter his scapegoat. Extremely scared, the boys run away and vow not to tell the murder. When Tom, Huck and Joe Harper run away to an island to be pirates, the second adventure begins. The tow people consider the three drowned and hold a funeral for the three during which they appear and surprise everyone. Back in town, Tom rejoices with his lover Becky Thatcher, who breaks with Tom before he adventures to the island, by taking class punishment for her. Later, Muff Potter is accused of murder yet Tom stands out and tells the truth out of conscience. Thus, he becomes the hero of the town but Injun Joe flees. Once more, Tom and Huck adventure to a haunted house for buried treasure, where they encounter Injun Joe who disguises as a deaf and mute Spaniard and dig out the gold without noticing the boys. At a town inn, Huck traces Injun Joe and comes across Injun Joe¡¯s plan to kill the kind Widow Douglas, who is then saved thanks to Huck¡¯s foretelling of the evil plan. Meanwhile, Tom and Becky go picnic in McDougal¡¯s Cave where they go lost and Tome sees Injun Joe. However, Tom manages to find a way out and reunites with the town people desperately searching them. The cave is then locked up and Injun Joe starves to death. Latter, Tom and Huck adventure for the last time to find the gold in the cave and succeed. The novel ends with Tom persuading Huck back to the civilized life who is at the time adopted by Widow Douglas but trying to escape.
One of the themes of the adventure of Tom Sawyer that is frequently discussed is Tom¡¯s maturation. At the very beginning, Tom is, if anything, a ¡°bad¡± boy, mischief, showing off, superstitious, ready for adventure. He persuades his peers to do the whitewashing of the wall for him, he fights in mock battles with other boys in the street, he shows off on the street to a girl who is later known as Becky, and he trades marbles to be rewarded a Bible in the in Sunday school and so on. When he sneaks back from his pirate adventure in the island back home, listening to Aunt Polly¡¯s crying over his death, he even seems to be enjoying her tears. However, despite all his naughty deeds, we find the word ¡°bad¡±is not an appropriate word to describe him. He is by nature, contrary to his brother Sid who is good in deeds yet bad in nature, a good boy. Nevertheless, he is undoubtedly immature and we are worrying about what could happen to him if real danger happens upon him as he keeps on adventuring. And real dangers do come; but by confronting dangers Tom gradually heads towards maturity. The most significant confrontation is that against the villainous Injun Joe. When he first witnesses the murder by Injun Joe, he is scared and takes an oath with the other two boys not to tell the truth not to cause troubles to them. Yet, when he sees the Muff Potter being imprisoned as the murderer, he begins to sway between the superstitious ideas of being punished by God if break the oath, the fear of being harmed by Injun Joe, and testifying against Injun Joe to save the innocent Potter. Finally, conscience pushes him to testify against Injun. This is the first time the mischief boy takes up his social responsibilities and is thus hailed a hero. Before the trial, the development of the relationship between Tom and Becky also carries a funny reflection of Tom¡¯s maturation. At first, the way the two show their affection to each other seems childish yet when Tom takes up the beating from the teacher for Becky, we see a boy who is so noble, of course, for love¡¯s sake. As the maturation process advances, regrettably, Tom sets out to give up some traits of an innocent boy and begins to accept the rules of the adult world, as is evident in his persuading the escaping Huck return to the civilized life and the Sunday school which Tom himself tries to run away from. Is this the price to pay to for growing up? Mark Twain offers no answer and the story ends, as he tells us in the Conclusion:¡± the story could not go much further without becoming the history of a man¡±.
1. Mark Twain. The Adventure of Tom Sawyer. US: Tom Doherty Association, LIC, 1989.
2. Mark Twain. The Adventure of Tom Sawyer with afterward by Keith Neilson, Bantam Classic Edition. US: Bantam Books, Inc, 1981.