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A Brutal Truth For Tom Sawyer

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"Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia and an appeal to the essence of being"- Albert Camus. The novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain is a realistic fiction based novel about a young man coming of age and expressing a loss of innocence in his life. This young man, Tom Sawyer, is a disobedient child and resides with his brother Sid, and his Aunt Polly in a town of St. Petersburg, Mississippi. He and his friend Huckleberry not long after leave to go to an island and act as pirates. From this point on, all of Tom's mischievous adventures unfold and reveal how he really isn't as innocent as he was when he was first introduced to readers in the novel. In the novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain demonstrates the brutality of coming of age by using lying and deception, social and internal conflicts, and symbolism to represent Tom's conflicts, and an overall point of view about the novel's theme of the coming of age and the loss of innocence.

Mark Twain was a man who was raised in Hannibal, Mississippi and grew up in the setting alike The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The first book that Mark Twain published was The Innocents Abroad, which became a bestseller about a travel diary of special passengers who travel overseas on a large cruise ship. This novel was published in 1869, which sparked off Twain's writing career to be known as one of the greatest of all time. Twain's usual themes were ones such as friendship, deception, and even alcohol and drug abuse. His childhood in Mississippi was a great influence to Twain on two of his most famous novels which are all about having adventures and probably show in a little bit of fiction a some of the experiences that he had of his own. Most of his novels are based upon his experiences, and a good amount of them have to do with some part of his childhood. On a historical basis, Mark Twain had lived right through the Civil War, and then after he even had lived through the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Politically, there was a mess with the Reconstruction taking place, but the election and impeachment of Andrew Johnson took place. Slavery had just recently been outlawed by the 13th amendment, and that was a huge social factor at the time among white Americans. Much can be inferred from Twain's works that its about his childhood like when " Mark Twain smiles constantly at the absurd in Tom's character, but he does not laugh Tom in to insignificance or lecture him in to the semblance of a puppet" (Van Doren 221).

With too much lying by Tom to his close relatives and friends, he works himself to get in to even deeper trouble with people than he already was in the beginning of the story. Tom ends up having to do some things to fix what he had done in the past, because all of the bad things came around to bite him in the behind. There are times in the story, mainly when speaking to his Aunt Polly, where Tom ends up having to say something that is false, which deceives his relative and just shows him to be a liar. Whenever Tom gets in to a mischievous act, he comes back having to say things to get out of it, which he doesn't even do all the time. The lying has shown between Aunt Polly and Tom for instance when he went swimming instead of going to school. The middle of this chapter goes in to a deep conversation between the two about how Tom needs to go to school instead of skipping all the time to keep up with his outdoor activities. "Tom, you didn't have to undo your shirt collar where I sewed it, to pump on your heard, did you? Unbutton your jacket!" Tom's Aunt Polly is continuously questioning and arguing with Tom, such as when he sewed his shirt back together to look like he hadn't taken it off to go swimming instead of going to school, plus his head was damp when he had walked in to the door. With fellow adults that live in the town, Tom ends up in a deep mess with the doctor and other people such as Injun Joe, which was a man who meant trouble in Mississippi. Lying was the only way that Tom would be able to get out of this rough situation. Tom and his good friend Huckleberry Finn took a trip to a cemetery, where they witnessed a man being killed right in front of their own eyes, and were told to be witnesses of it and say that it wasn't Injun Joe who had been a part of the crime. In the beginning of chapter twelve the killing is described as " Close upon the hour of noon the whole village was suddenly terrified with the ghastly news" (Twain 72), and "Tom'a heartbreak for the man had vanished and he had joined the funeral, and then an awful fascination of something crude of the man had been drawn up upon him" (Twain 72). WHatever mess Tom got in to, he would lie to other, and even lie to himself to the fact that he knew some of the places where he went on to his adventures were places where he really shouldn't have been, and he makes up excuses, even in his own mind to think that certain things never happened. Tom ends up standing up for a girl named Becky Thatcher, for lying to a teacher that he was the one who had stolen from the classroom but it ended up in him being punished even though he was trying to stand up for someone, he still had lied. Tom truly had lied again for the umpteenth time just to try and help someone else, but since he uses the characteristic of being a liar so much, it puts him up to no good and he gets a beating for it. Tom's deceptive character us explained multiple times by many people. "Not only does the narrators voice dominate the dialogue in Tom Sawyer, but it also dominates the experience of the protagonist"( Sandock). Tom's character dominates the other people in the story and is portrayed by how he speaks with his superstitious manner. "Ain't he played me tricks enough like that to actually start listening and respecting another individual?" (Twain 64). No matter what Tom is saying or doing throughout the story, somebody, especially his Aunt will come out and say something too all the tricks and lies that he provides to people throughout the novel. From Tom's lies and deceptions, he faces many conflicts in the novel which end up in some exciting twists and turns for the reader.

There are many conflicts endured by Tom and his friends in the novel which arouse questions to the reader. When Tom and Huckleberry Finn dash away to act as pirates, they completely fogger that people back in the village might question where they are, especially their guardians since they're not at school. Tom and Huckleberry just imagine themselves as these pirates where there is no problems, but clearly back in the village there is. There's a great social conflicts between Tom and his friend, but also with the people of the town because it was huge problem that nobody knew where they were, considering this an external conflict. One of the conflicts while Tom and Huckleberry are on this island is that there was a powerful storm coming their way, and Injun Joe supposedly wanted to stay behind(Twain 102-105). In the climax of the chapter, "The storm culminated in one matchless effort that seemed likely to tear the island to pieces, burn it up, drown it to the treetops, blow it away, and deafen every creature on it , all at one and the same moment" (Twain 103) as Tom and Huckleberry were stuck at the island. No matter what Tom got himself in to, there was always a conflict, whether it was for other people back at his home, or him and his storm on the island where he had no place to go and everything had been destroyed. In the text of the story Tom has a problem where he loves a girl named Amy Lawrence, but when the new girl in town Becky Thatcher comes in, he wants to commit to her and talk to her instead. Basically, Tom put himself in a large cookie because he told Amy at first that he would marry her, but then when he meets this new girls she doesn't have the guts to trust him either because she knew that he had left Amy in the first place. Internally, and externally with a lot of emotions being played this is one of Tom's greatest conflicts. Tom's problems are shown vastly in his dialogue with Becky Thatcher after she heard of Amy (Twain 54). "Tom tried to put his arm about her neck, but she pushed him away and turned her face to the wall, and went on crying"(Twain 54). After Tom had told her how he had once loved Amy, but Becky could not quite trust him yet and became very emotional. Tom had to watch and experience this while he was working to fulfill his love life, but in doing so leaving AMy for Becky he just gave it to himself to cause a lot of crying between both of the two girls. Problems occurred between Tom and his Aunt Polly, generally because of school and Sunday School attendance. Tom doesn't do what he's supposed to, and it just generates an argument between Aunt Polly and himself, because she kept him locked down in the house for not being able to do what he was supposed to. Since he was a disobedient kid, he didn't really apply what his Aunt had said to him and did what he wanted, causing more conflicts. The conflict between the two of them is longstanding throughout the story and "Not only does the narrator's voice dominate the dialogue in Tom Sawyer, but it also dominates the experience of the protagonist. As critics have long noted, though he appears to defy authority, he always cites the authority of literature for his escapades."(Gillespie). Tom's troubles are expressed by the narrator (Twain 10). "Not because his troubles were one whit less heavy and bitter to him than a man;s are to a man, but because a new and powerful interest bore him down and drove then out of his mind for the time- just as men;s misfortunes are forgotten in the excitement of new enterprises" (Twain 10). His troubles are always something and then something else, and they are all because of the one interest he has which is to go out and explore what he hasn't seen before in his life, which is better to Tom than being in a Sunday School. His interest is what gets himself in to certain conflicts because of his adventurous personality, which is just who Tom is. It's explaining that the troubles he has are from the motives he receives from being a really adventurous person in society. Along with all of the conflicts that Tom and his friends experience, many symbols work with these conflicts and connect to them to help show why certain things happened the way they did in the story.

Symbolism is shown in a great variety in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer with occurrences such as the storm, or places like the village. The storm that occurs in the story works to explain one of Tom;s most harsh adventures in which he is accompanied by Huckleberry Finn, and they perceive a whole island being destroyed right in front of their eyes, which was a dangerous event also. The storm is what symbolizes the karma for Tom and Huckleberry because of leaving everybody in the village earlier to become the silly pirates that they wanted to be. The harshness of the storm is shown deeply in one specific area of chapter eight (Twain 102-105). " A furious blast roared through the trees, making everything sing as is went. One blinding flash after another came, and peal on peal of deafening thunder (Twain 102-103). This goes to explain how because of the bad things that Tom had done firsthand, the storm shows and symbolizes how he kind of is getting what he deserves for not being innocent like when he was a young child. The treasure that is found by Tom in the story goes to act as another symbol in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. This symbol of the treasure explains how from Tom's adventures, and how he always had this aspiration for him and his friends to be pirates, they finally found what any pirate would ever want to find as a golden prize, which is the treasure. "Six hundred dollars was money enough to make half a dozen boys rich! Here was treasure hunting under the happiest auspices- there would not be any bothersome uncertainty as to where they dug" (Twain 152). Tom was always on the adventure, and the treasure went on to symbolize what the adventures he'd experienced, and the excitement shows how much pride they took in being able to find that treasure. In the story, the treasure finding especially to Tom was probably the most important piece of all of his adventures. The village is a symbol in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer playing a large place in the plot of the story, placing where people lived such as Tom and Huckleberry. The village was a place where all of the characters lived, and everything the characters did revolved around the village, and people in the village find out about the adventures that were taken, and the worlds get around to people. The village acted as a symbol of communication among characters and a place to spread events in the story. St. Petersburg works to act as a small town just like any other American town in the mid nineteenth century. With acting as this general microcosm American town, St. Petersburg is explained to be the ideal place to hold a story like this one. " The village produces that image in your mind, that warm, friendly American town where people generally get to hear about everything that happens within it"(Langhorne). A great description of the village is given in the preface of the book and how wonderful it is. " The town, mostly full of flat land and loaded with green vegetation, holds a place where Tom, and the more wealthy of St. Petersburg like Huckleberry Finn live" ( Twain xix). It just goes to explain how typical and great this plot setting was for the story, especially since it correlates with the town that Mark Twain had experienced his childhood in, which such as the flat town goes just as where he grew up, in the central area of Florida. The themes and symbols that Mark Twain had produced in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer go on to explain easily why Twain was as successful and as accomplished as he was able to be in his time. His works produced a great interest in reading for people in the United States and went on to produce great novels again.


Mark Twain was an author that was highly admired by many readers. He graduated from Yale University with a Master of Art degree, and received another art degree at the University of Oxford in 1907. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer didn't win any particular awards, but to this day, it is a bestseller and way up on the American favorites. Most of all, it will for a long time be known as a classic story about a young man who has a loss of innocence. The work was well received by everyone, no groups really showed disinterest to this story, which probably explains why the book is still being read to this day over one hundred years later. The story helped have an effect on literature, because it gave a motto to write about an American story, which became popular among other authors such as John Steinbeck with Of Mice and Men. The work helped shape the face of literature and how it works today, because writers today still look back at this story and Mark Twain's ideas to begin some topics for their stories and pieces. This work didn't really have a historical, or political impact or significance, but in a societal term, it did. It was significant because it gave a new American story that everyone was boasting about in the nineteenth century. People among societies became interested in novels like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer because it related to what was going on in their society at the time.

The coming of age, and the loss of innocence is shown deeply in this work, especially with the uses of symbolism and internal and external conflicts. The novel contains many situations in which someone, especially Tom, gets caught for doing something incorrect and cannot get away with it, and it storms up new issues. One can learn from this that nobody can't just do things in your life and not expect to have consequences for doing those actions, because even in the nineteenth century, that's now how society worked. It's important that its proven the loss of innocence is in this because it gives off the main idea of the book, how Tom Sawyer tried to manage to slip by all kinds of consequences on his adventures but always didn't get what he wanted to happen. "Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being"(Camus), which gives the point that when doing something, one must take full responsibility for one's actions, and if needed, do what is right to make sure that one doesn't look like a minuscule innocent child.



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