Review of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Overview from www.barnesandnoble.com: Perhaps the best-loved nineteenth-century American novel, Mark Twain’s tale of boyhood adventure overflows with comedy, warmth, and slapstick energy. It brings to life and array of irresistible characters—the awesomely self-confident Tom, his best buddy Huck Finn, indulgent Aunt Polly, and the lovely, beguiling Becky—as well as such unforgettable incidents as whitewashing a fence, swearing an oath in blood, and getting lost in a dark and labyrinthine cave. Below Tom Sawyer’s sunny surface lurk hints of a darker reality, of youthful innocence and naïveté confronting the cruelty, hypocrisy, and foolishness of the adult world—a theme that would become more pronounced in Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Despite such suggestions, Tom Sawyer remains Twain’s joyful ode to the endless possibilities of childhood.
My Review:I decided this week it was time to return to a classic and one that I’d actually read before. It has been a while since I have read it however. I thought that I probably wouldn’t remember a thing. When I sat down to read it the only memory that came to mind was the episode of whitewashing the fence but as I read on I was amazed at the things that came back to me. The segment where Tom and Becky are trapped in the cave, for example.
On the other hand there were characters that I had forgotten about entirely such as Sid, Tom’s “half-brother.” I didn’t remember Tom having a half-brother let alone anyone named Sid. Of course he doesn’t play a huge role in the story but he is in there quite a bit.
The story itself is told in a more episodic way that reveals his character. He is a young boy, growing up in the South, who likes to have adventures and doesn’t mind getting into trouble to do it. Yet he also has a conscience.
Along the way Tom discovers “great law(s) about human action,” such as, “in order to make a man or boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain.” (p. 18) And towards the end, his journey brings him to the brink of adulthood as Twain tells us he must end the tale hear least it become the tale of a man instead of that of a boy.
Other than forgotten characters, this pass through The Adventures of Tom Sawyer also brought to light the vast amount of superstitions that Tom and his friends placed great stock in. Some of them seemed downright silly but at the same time interesting. Although Twain tells at times that some of them are just childish beliefs, I couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps the South wasn’t more superstitious than I had previously guessed, especially in the past. Anyone from the South have any thoughts on this? Just wondering.
I do recommend this one but I wonder how many people will need my recommendation since most have probably already read it. For whatever its worth though, here it is.