novel’s protagonist. Tom is a mischievous boy with an active imagination
who spends most of the novel getting himself, and often his friends,
into and out of trouble. Despite his mischief, Tom has a good heart
and a strong moral conscience. As the novel progresses, he begins
to take more seriously the responsibilities of his role as a leader
among his schoolfellows.
in-depth analysis of Tom Sawyer.
aunt and guardian. Aunt Polly is a simple, kindhearted woman who
struggles to balance her
love for her nephew with her duty to discipline him. She generally
fails in her attempts to keep Tom
under control because, although she worries about Tom’s safety,
she seems to fear constraining him too much. Above all, Aunt Polly
wants to be appreciated and loved.
The son of the town drunk. Huck is a juvenile outcast
who is shunned by respectable society and adored by the local boys,
who envy his freedom. Like Tom, Huck is highly superstitious, and
both boys are always ready for an adventure. Huck gradually replaces
Tom’s friend Joe Harper as Tom’s sidekick in his escapades.
in-depth analysis of Huckleberry Finn.
Thatcher’s pretty, yellow-haired daughter. From almost the minute
she moves to town, Becky is the “Adored Unknown” who stirs Tom’s
lively romantic sensibility. Naïve at first, Becky soon matches Tom
as a romantic strategist, and the two go to great lengths to make
each other jealous.
“bosom friend” and frequent playmate. Joe is a typical best friend,
a convention Twain parodies when he refers to Joe and Tom as “two
souls with but a single thought.” Though Joe mostly mirrors Tom,
he diverges from Tom’s example when he is the first of the boys
to succumb to homesickness on Jackson’s Island. As the novel progresses,
Huck begins to assume Joe’s place as Tom’s companion.
half-brother. Sid is a goody-goody who enjoys getting Tom into trouble.
He is mean-spirited but presents a superficial show of model behavior.
He is thus the opposite of Tom, who is warmhearted but behaves badly.
sweet, almost saintly cousin. Mary holds a soft spot for Tom. Like
Sid, she is well behaved, but unlike him, she acts out of genuine
affection rather than malice.
violent, villainous man who commits murder, becomes a robber, and
plans to mutilate the Widow Douglas. Injun Joe’s predominant motivation
is revenge. Half Native American and half Caucasian, he has suffered
social exclusion, probably because of his race.
in-depth analysis of Injun Joe.
hapless drunk and friend of Injun Joe. Potter is kind and grateful
toward Tom and Huck, who bring him presents after he is wrongly
jailed for Dr. Robinson’s murder. Potter’s naïve trust eventually
pushes Tom’s conscience to the breaking point, compelling Tom to tell
the truth at Potter’s trial about who actually committed the murder.
respected local physician. Dr. Robinson shows his more sordid side
on the night of his murder: he hires Injun Joe and Muff Potter to
dig up Hoss Williams’s grave because he wants to use the corpse
for medical experiments.
minister of the town church.
The Widow Douglas
kindhearted, pious resident of St. Petersburg whom the children
recognize as a friend. Tom knows that the Widow Douglas will give
him and Becky ice cream and let them sleep over. She is kind to Huck
even before she learns that he saved her life.
Welshman who lives with his sons near the Widow Douglas’s house.
Mr. Jones responds to Huck’s alarm on the night that Injun Joe intends
to attack the widow, and he takes care of Huck in the aftermath.
father, the county judge. A local celebrity, Judge Thatcher inspires
the respect of all the townspeople. He takes responsibility for
issues affecting the community as a whole, such as closing the cave
for safety reasons and taking charge of the boys’ treasure money.
Polly’s young slave.
former love. Tom abandons Amy when Becky Thatcher comes to town.
of Tom’s friends, whom Tom persuades to whitewash Aunt Polly’s fence.
well-dressed new boy in town. Like Amy Lawrence, Alfred gets caught
in the crossfire of Tom and Becky’s love games, as Becky pretends
to like him in order to make Tom jealous.
somewhat ridiculous Sunday school superintendent. Because he aspires
to please Judge Thatcher, Mr. Walters rewards Tom with a Bible,
even though he knows that Tom hasn’t earned it.
schoolmaster. Mr. Dobbins seems a slightly sad character: his ambition
to be a medical doctor has been thwarted and he has become a heavy
drinker and the butt of schoolboy pranks.