Despite the undeniable danger of overanalysing, this notice is taken rather as a hint at the underlying criticism of social morality. The following chapters are going to demonstrate that both texts abound with moral reflections and judgements — not in the old sense of giving children instruction as to how to behave, but by attacking social traditions and behaviour.
Schooling is one of the central objects of criticism in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Mark Twain writes fully about the daily school routine and the power struggle existing between the teacher and his group of pupils. He claims to give a realistic picture of a typical country school, when he confronts the prevailing ideal of an obedient pupil, who likes to go to school and is anxious to learn, with a rebellious class of pupils, whose main interest is to play a trick on the hated, excessively strict master.
The consequence was that the smallest boys spent their days in terror and suffering and their nights in plotting revenge. But the criticism of Mr Dobbins does not stop here.
Correspondingly unmotivated and frustrated, he is unsparingly strict with his pupils, reads an anatomy book during the lessons and is often sleepy. On examination day, his last scene in the story, he is made the object of ridicule. Apart from the teacher, the didactic child gets a setback. He is sneaky, it gives him great pleasure to tell on Tom, but he is too much of a coward to fight with Tom and runs away instead.
As a further example, the model boy Willie Mufferson is described as a show-off.
This fateful case makes it clear that one can make too much of learning things and that learning too much can indeed be harmful. It points at the false ambition of schools — or in this case Sunday-schools — not only to support, but also to actively arouse an unreasonable eagerness to learn by awarding prizes for it. The most severe criticism, however, is directed against the popular literature of that time. He devotes more than three pages to the essays all written by schoolgirls, which were read out on these evenings.
Only the style seems to be important, the content does not really matter as long as the underlying message is in accord with the Presbyterian world view. Yet, one page of scathing criticism is not sufficient for Twain to reveal the whole extent of unbearable claptrap. In this context it is perhaps no accident that it is a German of all pupils who has both the faculty and the stupidity to learn three thousand verses from the Bible and to recite them without a break. Huck gets fuller development in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn , where he escapes down the river with the runaway slave Jim and, in spite of himself, begins to discover his conscience.
But just because Huckleberry Finn is the deeper book doesn't make Tom Sawyer mere kids' stuff. Twain never could make up his mind whether Tom Sawyer was for kids or grown-ups, and his book is the better for it. If Tom stepped out of his 19th-century Missouri small town and into a contemporary American classroom, a guidance counselor would probably tag him as an at-risk latchkey kid. Reading Tom Sawyer today is an invitation to talk about how American childhood has and hasn't changed—and also to laugh at Twain's enduring invention of a great American comic voice.
Two or three glimmering lights showed where it lay, peacefully sleeping, beyond the vague vast sweep of star-gemmed water. Tom Sawyer is a smart, imaginative, conniving, bossy boy growing up in fictional St. Petersburg, Missouri. He's usually in trouble by the time he gets out of bed, but he's too well-meaning and funny for anybody to stay mad at him for long.
Huckleberry Finn is the son of the local drunk. Huck does most everything that Tom puts him up to, while Tom covets Huck's freedom and independence. Becky Thatcher is the new girl in town, and Tom falls hard for her. She's flirty and headstrong, sometimes manipulative, but brave enough with Tom by her side. Sid Sawyer , Tom's half-brother, is the most disgusting goody two-shoes on two legs. Aunt Polly is always measuring Tom against him even though he's a shameless tattletale, a worrywart, and a crybaby. Aunt Polly has taken care of Tom since his mother died. She truly loves him, but he's a handful, and she wishes he could be more like that nice Sid.
The Widow Douglas takes Huck into her home and tries to reform him. Her rigidly scheduled life rubs him the wrong way, and only Tom has any luck talking him into staying. Muff Potter is a drunkard. He's not an evil man exactly but weak, cowardly, and ripe for anyone to come along and take advantage of him. Injun Joe embodies all the fear of the unknown that a small town might feel on the edge of a great unsettled wilderness. Violent and cruel, he earns a little of the reader's sympathy only at the very end.
Mark Twain's two most enduring books, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and its often underrated junior partner The Adventures of Tom Sawyer , represent two sides of the same raft. Tom Sawyer is sunny and upright, skirting whirlpools but ultimately hugging the shore of convention. Huck Finn is its deep, dark, wet, rushing underside.
Nowhere do these flipsides of Twain's productively riven personality bob up more conspicuously than at two moments common to each novel: when both title characters attend their own funerals, and when each novel ends with a shaky vow of reform. In both books the hero gets to live out perhaps every morbid, underappreciated kid's greatest fantasy: to spy on his own mourners and hear how sorry everybody is, and then to come back from the dead to a hero's welcome.
Ah, if he could only die temporarily! Huck, on the other hand, deliberately fakes his own death to escape his father. The books' endings, too, are strikingly similar. In Tom Sawyer , Huck reluctantly allows the Widow Douglas to take him in, but on the last page he doesn't sound terribly optimistic about sticking it out with her. Meanwhile, in the famous ending to Huck Finn , the title character vows to "light out for the territory" if the widow tries too zealously to "sivilize" him, because he's "been there before.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Mark Twain Study Help Essay Questions What human qualities does Aunt Polly exhibit in her behavior toward Tom? 9. 1. Analyze the relationship between Tom and Huck Finn, paying close attention to their trip to the graveyard and their hunt for treasure. 2. Analyze Tom's.
In fact, Tom and Huck fit their namesake books perfectly. Like Tom, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is outrageous, but also smooth, artful, and anxious to please. A model of literary construction, it stands up straight. Like Huck, on the other hand, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn slouches. It's ungainly, in need of finishing, and its language often lands it in trouble.
It's also touched by genius. There's no denying that something's fundamentally haywire with the end of Huck Finn —yet look closer and see if it isn't a flaw common to every imperfect life.
Huck and Jim have gone wrong after the fork, they've overshot something crucial, they've lost their way and don't know how to get back. Why does Tom decide he will stay overnight at the Widow Douglas' house instead of waiting for Huck's signal, when the possible treasure is more immediate and real?
Culture is the values, beliefs, and attitudes of a society, reflected in what they do and make and how they communicate. Describe the culture of Tom and Huck's town. What do View all Lesson Plans available from BookRags. All rights reserved.
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