The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

by: Mark Twain

Nature

1

Saturday morning was come, and all the summer world was bright and fresh, and brimming with life. There was a song in every heart . . . There was cheer in every face and a spring in every step. The locust trees were in bloom and the fragrance of the blossoms filled the air. Cardiff Hill, beyond the village and above it, was green with vegetation, and it lay just far enough away to seem a Delectable Land, dreamy, reposeful and inviting.

The theme of nature jumps from the page as Tom reluctantly prepares for his chore of whitewashing the fence and the narrator describes the natural world around him. The narrator describes this Saturday summer morning as bright, beautiful, and inviting. This idyllic setting tempts Tom to abandon the chores forced on him as a punishment and to explore nature. The natural world symbolizes happiness and freedom to Tom Sawyer, tying his character to that of the authentic romantic hero.

2

There was not even a zephyr stirring; the dead noonday heat had even stilled the songs of the birds; nature lay in a trance that was broken by no sound but the occasional far-off hammering of a woodpecker, and this seemed to render the pervading silence and sense of loneliness the more profound. The boy’s soul was steeped in melancholy; his feelings were in happy accord with his surroundings.

The narrator explains that Tom, upset after fighting with Becky, runs off to a dense wood to find comfort, demonstrating the importance of nature as inner landscape. Tom reflects on the silent, morose natural setting and feels at one with his surroundings that parallel his self-pitying mood. He envisions lying with the trees and grass in final repose, showing how nature symbolizes comfort and peace to Tom during times of struggle.

3

It was the cool gray dawn, and there was a delicious sense of repose and peace in the deep pervading calm and silence of the woods. Not a leaf stirred; not a sound obtruded upon great Nature’s meditation . . . Gradually the cool dim gray of the morning whitened, and as gradually sounds multiplied and life manifested itself. The marvel of Nature shaking off sleep and going to work unfolded itself to the musing boy.

The narrator describes sunrise, personifying nature as awakening to a work day. Giving nature humanlike qualities strengthens the connection between nature and the boys in this scene. When Tom, Joe Harper, and Huck run away and camp on Jackson’s Island, their entire adventure involves fleeing from civilization and seeking refuge in a natural setting. As Tom wakes in the morning in the woods, the narrator describes his surroundings using words like “delicious,” “calm,” and “cool” to reflect nature’s positive effect.