Who, being a child, did not dream to live in Tom Sawyer’s world? The story about a cunning boy who looks for adventures cannot leave anyone indifferent, especially because of protagonist’s troubles, which are serious and dangerous. Mark Twain keeps the reader in a state of constant intrigue, as it is not possible to foresee how Tom’s another trick will end. From the very beginning, it is clear that we are dealing with an extremely inventive and restless child.
The episode with the fence painting introduces the main character to us more vivdly than any description is capable of. He cunningly made his friends do all the work instead of him and, in addition to this, took a fee from them in the form of various boyish precious things, such as dead rat, a kite, a piece of blue bottle-glass, and others.
There is probably no person who would refuse to learn more about such a nimble boy, and Mark Twain met all his readers’ expectations.
Certainly, it is not fun to play pranks alone, so Tom found a friend, whose father did not look after the son. In other words, Huckleberry Finn was allowed to do whatever he wanted without a risk of being punished. Sleeping in the open air is not a misfortune in the novel; on the contrary, everybody envies the free lad, and Tom, for whom rules have no value, becomes his companion. The friends have much in common; both of them are good-natured, noble and thirsty for adventures.
The worthy traits of the protagonist’s personality were not revealed immediately; we witnessed them when he took the blame for a torn book to protect his beloved Becky. Well, even though the nobility of this action could be challenged because the boy was looking for Becky’s admiration and forgiveness, his subsequent high-minded deed deserves respect. The main character found himself in a difficult situation when he and his pal Huck were the only people except for the murderer who knew the truth about the recent crime, and Tom proved to be brave enough to appear as a witness in a court in spite of the fear of being killed by Injun Joe.
However, many readers had been underestimating the protagonist’s ingenuity until the moment he confessed love to Becky. Not every adult can so skillfully intrigue an object of his admiration, and the plainness with which he let the girl know about his feeling makes every not so confident boy jealous.
Tom is not the one who can retreat in the face of danger; he becomes the rival of the criminal again, but does not hide in safety and does not even give up the intent to seize the treasure. Of course, the forces are not equal, but the young daredevil is hardly aware of this. He and Huck follow the goal step by step, and finally, their courage and perseverance get awarded.
In the closing chapters of the book, it is easier for us to treat Tom as an adult, not a child. He and Becky got into danger. The children went to a cave, and, frightened by bats, ran deeper and lost the way. They spent three days there. The brave boy did not surrender to despair; he was constantly encouraging Becky, and when they were exhausted almost to death, Tom was lucky to find an unknown exit located five miles further from the main entrance. While he was in the cave, he met the murderer and understood that the criminal hid the desired treasure here.
People blocked the entrance after the dangerous incident with the children, and Injun Joe, who had not gone out, died there of starvation. Tom saw the result of his vain attempts to break free — traces of a knife on a rock. The boy had been in the same situation; he understood all the horror of such death and felt sympathy and pity for the deceased despite the previous risk of being killed. This fact characterizes the protagonist as a soft-hearted and not vindictive person.
Huckleberry Finn found refuge in the home of Widow Douglas, and when he, accustomed to a different lifestyle, tried to leave, Tom persuaded him not to do that. After that, readers understand that the main character develops into a responsible and conscientious person, who cares about friends’ well-being.
‘Auntie, I wish I hadn’t done it–but I didn’t think.’ Chapter 19, pg. 118
‘Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?’ Chapter 2, pg. 12
Plainly, here were ‘two souls with but a single thought.’ Chapter 13, pg. 80
‘I could forgive the boy, now, if he’d committed a million sins!’ Chapter 19, pg. 120
‘Damn her, maybe she’s got company–there’s lights, late as it is.’ Chapter 29, pg. 168
They had been hid in the unused gallery listening to their own funeral sermon! Chapter 17, pg. 109
But something informed him that if they had had any trouble they had got rid of it. Chapter 16, pg. 102
‘All right, though; she’d like to see me in just such a fix–let her sweat it out!’ Chapter 20, pg. 122
The group loitered away, still recalling memories of the lost heroes, in awed voices. Chapter 17, pg. 107
He was not the Model Boy of the village. He knew the model boy very well though–and loathed him. Chapter 1, pg. 4