The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Major conflict · Tom and Huck perceive their biggest struggle to be between themselves and Injun Joe, whose gold they want and whom they believe is out to kill them. Conflict also exists between Tom and his imaginative world and the expectations and rules of adult society. Rising action · Tom and Huck’s witness of Dr. Robinson’s murder; the search for the boys’ bodies in the river when they escape to Jackson’s Island; Tom’s testimony at Muff Potter’s trial; Tom and Huck’s accidental sighting of Injun Joe at the haunted house; Tom and Becky’s entrapment in the cave Climax · Huck overhears Injun Joe’s plan to kill the Widow Douglas, and Tom encounters Injun Joe when he and Becky are stranded in the cave. Falling action · Huck gets help from the Welshman and drives Injun Joe away from the Widow Douglas; Tom avoids conflict with Injun Joe and navigates himself and Becky out of the cave; Judge Thatcher seals off the cave, causing Injun Joe to starve to death; Tom and Huck find Injun Joe’s treasure; Huck is adopted and civilized by the Widow Douglas. Historical Background
Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in Florida, Missouri, in 1835, and grew up in nearby Hannibal, a small Mississippi River town. Hannibal would become the model for St. Petersburg, the fictionalized setting of Twain’s two most popular novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The young Clemens grew up in a prosperous family—his father owned a grocery store as well as a number of slaves—but he was sent out to work at the age of twelve after his father’s death. As a young man, he traveled frequently, working as a printer’s typesetter and as a steamboat pilot. In this latter profession he gained familiarity with the river life that would furnish much material for his writing. He also gained his pen name, Mark Twain, which is a measure of depth in steamboat navigation. Twain enlisted in the Confederate militia in 1861, early in the Civil War, but he soon left to pursue a career in writing and journalism in Nevada and San Francisco. His articles and stories became immensely popular in the decades that followed. On the strength of this growing literary celebrity and financial success, he moved east in the late 1860s and married Olivia Langdon, the daughter of a prominent Elmira, New York, family. Twain and Langdon settled in Hartford, Connecticut; there Twain wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which he published in 1876. Twain proceeded to write, among other things, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) and two sequels to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Tom Sawyer Abroad (1894) and Tom Sawyer, Detective (1896). He died in 1910, one of America’s most beloved humorists and storytellers. While The Adventures of Tom Sawyer retains some of the fragmented, episodic qualities of Twain’s earlier, shorter pieces, the novel represents, in general, a significant literary departure for Twain. He toned down the large-scale social satire that characterized many of his earlier works, choosing instead to depict the sustained development of a single, central character. Twain had originally intended for the novel to follow Tom into adulthood and conclude with his return to St. Petersburg after many years away. But he was never able to get his hero out of boyhood, however, and the novel ends with its protagonist still preparing to make the transition into adult life. Twain based The Adventures of Tom Sawyer largely on his personal memories of growing up in Hannibal in the 1840s. In his preface to the novel, he states that “[m]ost of the adventures recorded in this book really occurred” and that the character of Tom Sawyer has a basis in “a combination . . . of three boys whom I knew.” Indeed, nearly every figure in the novel comes from the young Twain’s village experience: Aunt Polly shares many characteristics with Twain’s...