Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

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The Metamorphosis Of a Larva into a Butterfly
“It is not a boy's book, at all. It will only be read by adults. It is only written for adults.”
-------- Mark Twain

1.The brief introduction about Mark Twain
Mark Twain, the pen name of Samuel Clemens---America's most famous literary icon----was born in the small town of Florida on Nov. 30, 1835. He is a mastermind of humor and realism, is seen as a giant in world literature. His humor had great impact on the following men of letters. "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer", which is seen as one of his famous works, was written in 1876. The young protagonist of the novel, Tom Sawyer, is drawn from real life, but is a combination of the characteristics of three boys. Through Mark Twain’s vivid portrayal, he introduced the immortal character of Tom to the "Hall of Fame" of American literature.

2. Short Summary
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer centers on the youthful adventures of the young protagonist, Thomas Sawyer, who is bored with the monotonous school life and is always getting into mischief. He has a strong craving for adventure and also has a gift for active imagination. Therefore, many interesting, mysterious and unexpected experiences happen to him and his good friend, Huckleberry Finn.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is considered one of the greatest works of American literature not only because Mark Twain can portray the "idylls of childhood" in such a vivid and impressive way, but also because it reflects so perfectly the culture of mid-1800s America. In other words, these young children present an epitome of those American youth during the frontier period that came before Industrialization.

3. The Analysis of Tom Sawyer

1) His Intelligence Demonstrated in the Plots
(1) At the beginning of the novel, Tom successfully escapes Aunt Polly's beating by diverting her attention.
Analysis:
A vivid Tom Sawyer is so well represented before readers that we are immediately attracted by the lovely boy. Tom’s first impression leaves me thinking he is clever, irresponsible and fond of mischief.

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In a word, he is a typical mischievous imp.

(2) In the novel, the most impressive scene for me is the one in which Tom tricks the neighborhood boys into completing his entire chore. Tom pretends to love whitewashing and seemingly treasure the chance so much. Actually, he hasn’t enthusiasm for this work in the least. But what he has done takes effect soon: All the neighborhood boys beg Tom for the chance to whitewash in exchange for small trinkets. At last, Tom discovers a great law of human action that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain.
Analysis:
How dramatic the scene is! I appreciate this scene so much that I have read this part for not less than ten times. Especially the sentence that "Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?" made me break into a gentle laugh and even showed my admiration by pounding the table.
In my opinion, Tom is an extremely clever boy. The great law of human action which he has found is astounding for his young age. When he is playing, he is not only playing, but also makes the best use of his true intellect to analyze the character of his friends he has met. Moreover, he also takes stock of the situations around him and then makes decision. He can draw something useful from what he is doing, which is very uneasy even for the children now. In a word, blessed with full intellect, Tom is good at thinking and processes an incredible insight.

2) His Craving for attention
(1) Tom has trade his worldly possessions for the Bible given by the Sunday school, which only the most diligent students earned.
Tom always plays the game acting as a noble robber such as Robin Hood or a pirate with his friends.
Analysis:
From the portrayal above, Tom's craving for attention is well portrayed. He tries his best to trade for enough tickets not because he wants a Bible but because he wants the glory that comes with it. In an effort to gain even more glory and attention, he makes efforts to show off in any situation in order to reach what he calls "glory”.
Moreover, Robin Hood in Tom’s eyes is symbolic of the noblest thieves: Robin Hood protects the poor and only steals from those who do harm to the poor. Therefore, Robin Hood is loved by most people. Tom’s desire to be the image such as Robin Hood reflects he is obsessed with appearing noble and obtaining the envy of his peers. We can also see that Tom's aspiration is not to cause mischief, but to be a "noble" figure like Robin Hood. But in actuality, the only way Tom can gain attention is to behave badly.

(2) When Aunt Polly regards him by mistake as the trouble-maker for dropping the sugar-bowl onto the floor, and when knowing Tom was previously "engaged" to Amy Lawrence, Becky leaves him alone angrily, Tom feels unloved, heartbroken and enraged. At that time, the image of his death and funeral always haunts Tom. "Ah, if only I could die temporarily!" He always considers others’ reaction to the news that he is dead.
Analysis:
Does he really want to be dead? My answer is NO! From my perspective, his aim is to revenge. He wishes to make the people who care about him feel guilty for their "wrong-doings." His wish to "die temporarily" is a possibility, he thinks, that serves to raise his own self-esteem to a higher level.
In addition, it is also a manifestation of doubting his worth of existence. “Will anybody care when I am gone?” Actually, he knows he isn’t a good boy like Sid: He is not religious; he doesn’t do a good job at schoolwork; he constantly gets into mischief. But he will never be a "good boy" because he can only gain the attention he craves through bad behavior. Just because he regards himself as a bad boy and people don’t like him, his own worth in his heart has been shaken.

3) His Maturity
(1) As the novel proceeds, the relationship between Tom Sawyer and Becky develops as well, from which I see Tom really changes and grows.
At first, during the courtship, Tom tries his best to show off in front of Becky by acting so childish: cuffing boys, pulling hair, making faces, which Tom thinks is "heroic". When he wins her love, he is eager to act "adult-like" by becoming engaged, which reflects he want to be an adult, but the behavior at that time is immature.
As the story unfolds, our lovely protagonist comes to step into the more mature world: He is willing to take the whippings from Mr. Dobbins simply to save Becky from embarrassment. He does so partly because he can win her heart back by means of it, but also because he truly loves her.
When they move aimlessly in the cave, it is Tom who is rational enough to conserves their candles as long as possible, who comforts Becky to feel hopeful, and who finally finds the exit of the cave. At last, they successfully come through the panic period.
What I mention above is Tom’s change in the development of the relationship between Tom and Becky, from which I find his change: He learns he should protect Becky and should be responsible for their situation. A real hero is not just to show off, but to step forward to shoulder the obligation, even the risk of sacrificing his own life. This is a precious lesson Tom need to learn.

(2) In the former half of the novel, the sense of innocence and youthfulness pervades every corner of it. But the later coming murder that Tom and Huck witness immediately breaks their unadulterated and wholesome lifestyle.
At first, after witnessing the murder of Dr. Robinson, Tom and Huck promise to "keep mum" by signing a contract in blood. Their silence shows that they have not yet realized the gravity of the role they’ll play in the situation and don’t have enough courage to face the horrible crime.
Then, when they realize the terrible situation which Muff Potter will soon be in. Tom's guilt slowly begins to pervade his mind, and in an attempt to silence it, Tom visits Muff potter in jail.
But Tom knows that only he comes forward with his eyewitness account of the murder can save Muff Potter. Therefore, nightmares frequently haunt him, which manifests his constantly guilty conscious. This is a lesson Tom must learn that he must learn to listen to his conscience rather than ignore it.
Finally, Tom does what he should do. I believe this precious experience plays an irreplaceable role in his process of growing up, from which he learns that his behavior can even determine whether a living life exists or not, so he should become accountable for every step he takes in his whole life.
Just like the metamorphosis of a larva into a butterfly, our protagonist, Tom Sawyer, finally undergoes a metamorphosis into a mature and accountable "man".

4. My Ending Words
My book report is coming to the end. It has really cost me a long time to complete it, but the process has brought me so much happiness that I enjoy it so much. I think it completely deserves me to do so.
At the beginning, Mark Twain said ‘It is only written for adults.’ But I think it is suitable for people from all levels of ages, because in everyone’s heart, there exists a unique Tom Sawyer, from whom everyone can find part of himself.

Bibliography
http://www.cmgww.com/historic/twain/about/bio.htm
http://www.amazon.cn/detail/product.asp?prodid=zhbk929973&=-9963130-8652260
http://scholar.ilib.cn/Abstract.aspx?A=ylsfxyxb200602011
http://www.geocities.com/swaisman/
http://elearning.shu.edu.cn/jcyy/_private/lesson7.ppt
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