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Beth Meacham, David Brin

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain, Guy Cardwell, John Seelye “A modern day warrior
Mean, mean stride
Today's Tom Sawyer
Mean, mean pride”


- “Tom Sawyer” by Rush

Classic prog-rock man!

I’ve always wondered what Rush’s (probably) most popular song has to do with Mark Twain’s young protagonist. Something to do with being a free-spirited rebel I think, though I cannot imagine Tom Sawyer as a warrior. Tom, in fact, seems almost like a juvenile delinquent, though – through the course of this novel – there is no real malice in him. To quote his Aunt Polly, “he warn't BAD, so to say—only mischEEvous. Only just giddy, and harum-scarum, you know.” His behavior in [b: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn|2956|The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn, #2)|Mark Twain|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1405973850s/2956.jpg|1835605] is another matter, he is almost an evil dark lord in that one, carrying his pranks too far and causing a lot of pain and distress.

So The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is, of course, exactly what it says on the tin. A rather hyperactive twelve-year-old boy going around town getting up to all kinds of shenanigans, usually with his friend Huckleberry Finn by his side; though on one occasion he swaps Huck for cute little Becky Thatcher (no relations) instead for an adventure in a cave.

Tom’s adventures tend to be episodic, including witnessing a murder, falling in love, running away from home to take up piracy, treasure hunting etc. Throughout the book Tom is shown to be clever, resourceful, mischievous, and a constant source of headache and heartache for his Aunt Polly. Tom is something of a master of psychological manipulation, more often than not he can fool people into doing what he wants them to do and even have them feeling grateful for it. As demonstrated in the whitewashing incident where he manages to con young Jim into doing his work for him, and even manages to get the latter’s apple as a “reward” (as depicted in the book cover below)


As for Huckleberry Finn, in this book he is more of a sidekick than an equal partner in Tom’s escapades. Tom is very fortunate to have a friend like Huck who is staunchly loyal and shares his taste for running wild. The friendship between the two of them is something to envy, as it must be very pleasant to lark about with someone so likeminded.

Twain’s prose is just wonderful to read, always very witty and often acerbic. While depicting a fun-filled childhood he also manages to poke fun at town folks and their hypocrisies. The prose style of this book’s narrative is quite different from that of [b: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn|2956|The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn, #2)|Mark Twain|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1405973850s/2956.jpg|1835605], which is narrated in the first person in Huck Finn’s colloquial style. Both styles are a lot of fun to read, and are great in different ways. The main difference is narrating in Twain’s own style enables him to include more wry and acerbic observations. Case in point:

“ One of those omniscient and aweinspiring marvels, a detective, came up from St. Louis, moused around, shook his head, looked wise, and made that sort of astounding success which members of that craft usually achieve. That is to say, he "found a clew." But you can't hang a "clew" for murder, and so after that detective had got through and gone home, Tom felt just as insecure as he was before.”

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is an enjoyable read from beginning to end, even though it is ostensibly a children’s book, it really is a book for all ages, and made me laugh several times. It is not quite as profound as [b: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn|2956|The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn, #2)|Mark Twain|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1405973850s/2956.jpg|1835605] I don’t think, and I wish I had read Tom’s book before Huck’s book as they chart the development of both characters.