The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Is Not a Bildungsroman
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Is Not a Bildungsroman
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Isn’t a coming-of-age story because Tom still remains just as childish as he is in the beginning of the story. A Christmas Carol is a bildungsroman, on the other hand, because Scrooge becomes a better man and learns to respect others from the beginning of the story. Scrooge is a grumpy, heartless, hateful man who thinks only of money and himself while not even considering the feelings of those around him. “Scrooge had a very small fire, but the clerk’s fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one coal. But he couldn’t replenish it, for Scrooge kept the coal-box in his own room; and so surely as the clerk came in with the shovel, the master predicted that it would be necessary for them to part”(Stave 1 Dickens). Scrooge doesn’t care about the health and welfare of his own employee and lets him freeze, not even using enough coal for himself, thinking only about the amount of coal he has.
His mind thinks that if he has lots of coal, it will be of use instead of actually using them to warm his employee and himself. His sick mind cares more about the amount of coal rather than his own health. “Merry Christmas! What right have you to be merry? What reason have you to be merry? You’re poor enough” (Stave 1 Dickens). His nephew comes to greet him a ‘Merry Christmas’ and he just says that he is poor and has no right to be merry. He thinks only money can make a person happy, showing his desire for money and his greed. “If they would rather die… they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population” (Stave 1 Dickens). Scrooge believes that the poor have no place in the world and might as well die to keep place for the wealthy. He has no sympathy for their unfortunate circumstances and no understanding of their feelings and believes they should spend Christmas, a happy day for all, in jails or die.
The quotes show how Scrooge thinks only of money and this controls all his actions and attitude toward things. He has no consideration for the unfortunate and decides to make fun of their misery and even when they can be happy. Tom is a troublesome, manipulative, and lazy boy. He thinks life is a game & plays pranks on friends, family, and other strangers. “He got back home barely in season to help Jim, the small colored boy, saw next-day’s wood and split the kindlings before supper — at least he was there in time to tell his adventures to Jim while Jim did three-fourths of the work”(3 Twain). Tom is telling Jim about his adventures while he just stands there and makes Jim do all the work. This shows that Tom is lazy and doesn’t even consider doing work at all. It also shows he skipped school and didn’t even care about it. “Like it? Well, I don’t see why I oughtn’t to like it. Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day” (13 Twain)?
Tom is slyly convincing Ben that whitewashing is fun. He is manipulating Ben’s mind into thinking that whitewashing is something he would like to do. This shows how he is lazy enough to convince someone else to do his work by saying it is fun and pretending that only he can do it. “Tom disappeared under the bed just in time. He lay and “breathed” himself for a time, and then crept to where he could almost touch his aunt’s foot” (102-103 Twain). Tom has run away and decided to come and look at his Aunt’s misery. He has no consideration as to how his Aunt feels about him being ‘dead’. His childish attitude toward life runs him to do crazy things without consideration for others. Tom is shown as a little boy who doesn’t understand other people’s feelings and hates to work. At the end of the story, Scrooge becomes a kind, loving person, who cares for others and is happy around others. He has lost his greed for money and possession of items and helps the needy when he can.
“No, no…I am in earnest. Go and buy it, and tell them to bring it here, that I may give them the direction where to take it. Come back with the man, and I’ll give you a shilling. Come back with him in less than five minutes and I’ll give you half-a-crown” (Stave 5 Dickens). Scrooge has decided to spend money to buy a turkey, which is meant for Christmas, a holiday he has never loved and given consideration to. He is actually paying a boy to get him the turkey, showing that he has no desire for money like in the beginning of the story. He isn’t even keeping the turkey for himself, he decided to give the turkey to someone else, something he has never done before. “And therefore I am about to raise your salary” (Stave 5 Dickens). Scrooge has decided to help his employee’s son by increasing his salary.
In the beginning of the story, Scrooge wouldn’t have even thought about raising his employee’s salary, much less letting him take more days off and actually pay him. Scrooge is developing feelings about Tiny Tim and has actually decided to take actions to help him. “It’s I. Your uncle Scrooge. I have come to dinner. Will you let me in, Fred” (Stave 5 Dickens)? Scrooge has decided to spend Christmas with his nephew; someone he thought is poor and deserves no right to be merry. He wants to actually celebrate Christmas with family. He has always thought Christmas is a waste and never celebrated it. Scrooge has finally become a happy person who can help others and think about others and their feelings. Some might argue that Tom has matured and that The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a bildungsroman because of his feelings toward his aunt and his actions in the cave. “The bark I had wrote on to tell you we’d gone pirating. I wish, now, you’d waked up when I kissed you — I do, honest”(131 Twain).
Readers might think that since Tom had the heart to tell his aunt about the kiss and the bark, he has grown up and understands that he has to consider her feelings. They might think he has matured in a way because he is starting to make good decisions. “A long time after this — they could not tell how long — Tom said they must go softly and listen for dripping water — they must find a spring” (203 Twain). Some might assume he has matured because he is using his survival skills to help Becky and himself survive. He understands what he must do to keep them alive, so it seems like he is taking life serious, finally. Also, it seems that Tom is considerate for other people and not only worried for his own life, but for Becky’s too. “Tom kissed her, with a choking sensation in his throat, and made a show of being confident of finding the searchers or an escape from the cave; then he took the kite-line in his hand and went groping down one of the passages on his hands and knees, distressed with hunger and sick with bodings of coming doom”(207 Twain).
Tom seems to understand that he must take other people’s feelings into consideration when talking actions. He shows this when tries to cheer Becky up and that nothing horrific will happen to them and decides that he will go and search for the way out while Becky rests. He finally understands that he must sometimes sacrifice his comforts to help save someone else. He is starting to develop feelings toward another person and decides that he will help save her if it means falling to the wrath of Injun Joe. However, when Tom is rescued from the cave, he talks about immature stuff, which shows that he is still the same child as he is from the beginning of the story. “We’ve got it now, and we’ll keep it quiet, only we’ll let Joe Harper and Ben Rogers in — because of course there’s got to be a Gang, or else there wouldn’t be any style about it.
Tom Sawyer’s Gang — it sounds splendid, don’t it, Huck” (215-216 Twain)? Tom is explaining how he wants to form a gang, just at the end of the story! Tom still has the childish mind of being a gang, just after being pirates and getting lost in a cave. He hasn’t learned from past experiences, which shows he is just as childish and immature as he is in the beginning. “Well, it just does, Tom. And who’ll we rob? Oh, most anybody. Waylay people — that’s mostly the way”(216 Twain). Even though Tom has all the money anybody could want, and more, he still decides to rob people of their money and just do it for the enjoyment. This shows how Tom is still as greedy as ever and has almost no consideration as to how others would feel about being robbed and in what condition they would be.
He finds special enjoyment in hurting others, which goes to show how he doesn’t understand how people would feel about being hurt. “The novel is not a coming-of-age story at all; it is the story of a boy who remains a boy, regardless of what happens to him”(234 Twain). Even Keith Neilson has acknowledged the fact that Tom Sawyer has not grown up because he talks about kidnapping woman and killing the men. He explains that he was mature in the cave, but he lost his maturity when he came out of the cave. Tom’s soon-to-come gang has resulted in him not being mature and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer not being a bildungsroman. Tom has not shown the true qualities of being mature; therefore, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is not a bildungsroman. For a person to be called mature, they need to have shown growth from their younger ages emotionally, psychologically, and be able to learn from their mistakes.
Subject: Mark Twain,
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 4 October 2016
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