Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer


Patricia Truslow, Contributor

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mark twain tomMark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is one of the greatest American novels to ever be written. Tom Sawyer is a mischievous boy who lives with an aunt along with Sid, his half-brother along the Mississippi River, as Twain did. His punishment for a misdeed gains him the punishment of whitewashing a fence one Saturday morning, but Tom trades his fence painting for tickets earned in Sunday School. He trades the tickets in for a Bible, but is caught in his scheme when he incorrectly answers that David and Goliath were the first two disciples. It is the beginning of many misfortunes that entertain the reader and cover many common faults of human behavior.

Tom Sawyer goes with another favorite character of Mark Twain's, Huckleberry Finn, to the graveyard one night to experiment with a new way to cure warts. While there, they see a murder committed by an Indian named Joe, but Joe blames the murder on the man with him, Muff Potter, a drunk. When Potter is arrested for the crime, Tom becomes anxious with guilt for not stepping forward and naming the real murderer. Tom, Huck, and their friend Joe run away to become pirates. While away having fun, the trio finds out that the people in town believe they have drowned. The boys decide to appear at their funeral and surprise everyone, which resulted in great rejoicing, making them the town heroes and the envy of all their young friends.

When the murder trial for Potter begins, Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer does the right thing and testifies that Injun Joe was the real killer. Joe jumps through a window in the courtroom and escapes. Tom and Huck find Joe, months later while searching for hidden treasure in a haunted house. While they were in the attic, Injun Joe, disguised as a deaf mute Spaniard enters the house with a companion. Tom and Huck watch as the pair below them starts to bury their own treasure. However, in the process, Injun Joe finds a box of buried gold, which they take with them.

From that point in the story, the adventures of Tom Sawyer go in several directions, from being in love with a girl named Becky to becoming the town hero again and again as he and Huck constantly encounter Injun Joe and various opportunities at having some sort of treasure at the expense of the Indian. Finally, through several crosses with Joe, Huck and Tom are rewarded; Huck is adopted by a kind widow and Joe finds a box of gold, which is invested for the two adventurous boys. But, even the fortune they finally possess isn't enough to keep them out of trouble.

Even though Mark Twain tells the reader of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer that "...part of my plan has been to try to pleasantly remind adults of what they once were themselves, and of how they felt and thought and talked, and what queer enterprises they sometimes engaged in," one cannot deny the fact that there are a few basic morals to this story, which are: Always do the right thing, help others when needed, never hurt another person, persevere through all life's challenges, and never stop being a child.