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Tom Sawyer

When the novel begins, Tom is a mischievous child who envies Huck Finn’s lazy lifestyle and freedom. As Tom’s adventures proceed, however, critical moments show Tom moving away from his childhood concerns and making mature, responsible decisions. These moments include Tom’s testimony at Muff Potter’s trial, his saving of Becky from punishment, and his heroic navigation out of the cave. By the end of the novel, Tom is coaxing Huck into staying at the Widow Douglas’s, urging his friend to accept tight collars, Sunday school, and good table manners. He is no longer a disobedient character undermining the adult order, but a defender of respectability and responsibility. In the end, growing up for Tom means embracing social custom and sacrificing the freedoms of childhood.

Yet Tom’s development isn’t totally coherent. The novel jumps back and forth among several narrative strands: Tom’s general misbehavior, which climaxes in the Jackson’s Island adventure; his courtship of Becky, which culminates in his acceptance of blame for the book that she rips; and his struggle with Injun Joe, which ends with Tom and Huck’s discovery of the treasure. Because of the picaresque, or episodic, nature of the plot, Tom’s character can seem inconsistent, as it varies depending upon his situation. Tom is a paradoxical figure in some respects—for example, he has no determinate age. Sometimes Tom shows the naïveté of a smaller child, with his interest in make-believe and superstitions. On the other hand, Tom’s romantic interest in Becky and his fascination with Huck’s smoking and drinking seem more the concerns of an adolescent.

Whether or not a single course of development characterizes Tom’s adventures, a single character trait—Tom’s unflagging energy and thirst for adventure—propels the novel from episode to episode. Disobedient though he may be, Tom ends up as St. Petersburg’s hero. As the town gossips say, “[Tom] would be President, yet, if he escaped hanging.”

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Tom Sawyer

by muymuymuymuy, December 06, 2012

The key to reading this book is to concentrate on the anwsers and actually analyze what they are saying.

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43 out of 101 people found this helpful

Just a bit of advice....

by fieldhockeylover101, March 25, 2013

If u have a big exam on this novel coming up.......instead of reading all the chapter analysis's,read the overall anylsis, quotes and come up with the most important charcters and write out WHO they really are. Just a helpful idea.......!

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24 out of 32 people found this helpful

Important.. Read!

by _hi123, April 09, 2013

After chapter 17, all the chapters are one chapter behind. So chapter 19 is under chapter 18 and so on. I am not positive if this goes on through the rest of the chapters but I know that after chapter 17, this does happen. Hope this helps!

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49 out of 64 people found this helpful

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