Who is Tom Sawyer? Why does he have a book written about him? What are a few of his traits? Those are the questions that fill a reader’s head as they begin to read the thrilling adventure book
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. This book is full of interesting stories about Tom and the other residents of St. Petersburg Missouri. A few of the other unique characters in the book are Tom’s gullible Aunt Polly, his younger half-brother Sid, his friend Ben Roger, and his other good friend Huckleberry Finn, a young boy who lives on the streets. In this book Tom manages to get others to pay him to whitewash his own fence, witness a murder, run away from his aunt to become a pirate, fake his own death to visit his own funeral, and even find treasure. Although there are many other characters in this book, Tom is the most interesting character by far, and he is the one that makes the tales in the book so fun to read. Tom’s clever mind, mischievous spirit and athletic talents are what make him who he is: a fun-loving boy full of interesting tales of adventure.
Throughout the entire book Tom displays his clever mind in his various endeavors. For example Tom tricked his friend Ben Roger into whitewashing the fence near Tom’s house in return for Joe’s apple. “I’ll give you all of it” (pg. 14) Ben begged after watching Tom whitewash with envious eyes. Only the cleverest of clever minds is able to deceive another into doing their job, but Tom managed to do that and got his friend to pay for it too. People with minds as great as Tom’s almost always succeed in life because they can talk their way out off, or even into, anything. In order to sew up shirt after swimming the author tells us that Tom had tucked under his lapel two needles “…one needle (that) carried white thread and the other black.” (pg. 54) Although his annoying half-brother Sid foiled his plan that was otherwise going smoothly, the idea’s brilliance remains untarnished. Most children can only hope to come up with one idea this ingenious in their entire childhood but Tom Sawyer makes them repeatedly. Anyone with a mind half as clever as Tom’s should be able to see without a shadow of a doubt Tom Sawyer’s brilliance.
Another about Tom Sawyer is that he is no goody-two-shoes, in fact he is sometimes downright mischievous. For example, at the very beginning of the book Tom gets caught in the closet eating jam. When his Aunt Polly saw him she scolded him for eating “…the jam, that’s what it is.”(pg. 2) This quote shows Tom’s readiness to do what it takes to get what he wants, even if it means getting in trouble for it. He also shows that he feels no remorse for the trouble he causes others. Tom’s Aunt Polly is constantly testing new medicines on Tom and his half-brother Sid, medicines that Sid would take and Tom would pour it into a crack in the floor. One day when Tom was going about doing this the family cat Peter came through and tried to get some medicine, and after trying to dissuade the cat he finally gave in and said, “Now you’ve asked for it, and I’ll give it to you, because there ain’t anything mean about
me; but if you find you don’t like it you mustn’t blame anybody but your own self.”(pg. 84) This shows that Tom not only gave the cat some medicine, but he had also been “filling the crack” for quite some time without his aunt’s knowledge. He also shows that he is willing to risk hurting others if it will benefit himself, which is what being mischievous basically is. Tom displays his mischievous spirit throughout the book and these are just a few of many examples of Tom’s mischievous doing.
In addition to his clever mind and mischievous ways his amazing athletic talents cause many of Tom’s fascinating adventures. For example, while sneaking out to the graveyard with his friend Huck Finn on the night he witnessed a murder, he nimbly climbed out of the window onto the roof at the strike of midnight and “…jumped to the roof of the woodshed and thence to the ground.”(pg. 63) This quote gives us our first view of Tom’s extraordinary athletic ability- it not just any boy who has the agility or strength to jump from roof to roof. Not only did he have the ability to perform this daring feat, but he also knew he had it and did it with such speed and skill that it is obvious he had done it before. Later on in the book when he sailed away down the Mississippi River to Jackson Island to go pirating he swam back across the river “…quartering upstream but was still swept downwards.”(pg. 101) Not only is the Mississippi River a wide river, it is strong so any man to swim across must be in outstanding physical condition, let alone a boy. By completing this tall task Tom displayed his aptitude is swimming, his great endurance and his confidence in his abilities. These two quotes show Tom’s amazing physical ability in great clarity.
As readers finish the book their questions are different. What will become of Tom? Will he grow up to be a rich man? Will he be married? Given his amazing personality and his useful traits anyone who knows anything about Tom Sawyer could tell you that whatever happens to him in the future it will be good.