Tom Sawyer

Topics: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain Pages: 3 (876 words) Published: May 16, 2013
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Overview
Mollie Sandock

In his preface to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Mark Twain writes that "most of the adventures recorded in this book really occurred; one or two were experiences of my own, the rest of boys who were schoolmates of mine." Twain's memories of his boyhood in Hannibal, Missouri, form the basis of the novel and give it its idyllic, often nostalgic tone of celebration of lost childhood; Twain called the book "simply a hymn, put into prose form to give it a worldly air." Tom Sawyer is not the complex masterpiece that its successor Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is, but it is well worth reading in its own right. The novel lives on because of its humor and its memorable evocation of the world of childhood. The novel takes place in a transformed, eternal-summer version of Hannibal called St. Petersburg (Saint Peter's burg, a kind of Heaven). Tom Sawyer is full of lavish lyrical descriptions of the summer world as it is experienced by those who can appreciate it best--children. The novel also remembers the nightmare side of childhood; grave-robbing, murder, revenge, and grisly death are also part of St. Petersburg. As he wrote and revised the book, Twain could not make up his mind whether he was writing a book for children or adults. In his preface, Twain expresses a double purpose: "Although my book is intended mainly for the entertainment of boys and girls, I hope it will not be shunned by men and women on that account, for part of my plan has been to try to pleasantly remind adults of what they once were themselves." Although the point of view is Tom's most of the time, the narrator leading us into Tom's experience is clearly an adult--amused, superior, and nostalgic by turns--who expects readers to see more than Tom does, to laugh at him and admire him from a perspective of adulthood. Tom Sawyer is in part a reaction against the "Sunday-school literature" abounding in 19th-century America, which...
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