THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYERMark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer tells the story of Tom, an imaginative and mischievous young boy who never passes up a chance for an adventure in mid-nineteenth century St. Petersburg, Missouri. The novel has several themes, among which are love, imagination, rebellion and superstition.
One of the major themes that the author portrays in the book is childhood love. We can clearly see the associated emotions overcoming the boy when he first notices Becky Thatcher, as stated: "He worshiped this new angel with furtive eye, till he saw that she had discovered him; then he pretended he did not know she was present, and began to "show-off" in all sorts of absurd boyish ways, in order to win her admiration." (p.
17) Soon after, he proposes to Becky with a doorknob and out of excitement, accidentally mentions his former love, Amy Lawrence, causing the engagement to fall apart. To illustrate the pain of a broken heart, the author chooses carefully his words in order to show us the power of love. The statement: "So she (Becky) sat down to cry again and upbraid herself; and by this time the scholars began to gather again, and she had to hide her grief and still her broken heart and take up the cross of a long, dreary, aching afternoon, with none among the strangers about her to exchange sorrows with.
" (p.52) explains the previous fact. As an end of the year celebration, Tom's whole class goes on a cave exploration outside of town. When Tom and Becky realize that they are lost in the caves, he constantly tires to comfort her and ignite some hope for their escape. The passage on page 187, "He sat down by her and put his arms around her; she buried her face in his bosom, she clung to him, she poured out her terrors, her unavailing regrets, and the far echoes turned them all to jeering laughter." reminds us of an existing love between the two children.
Apart from his love for Becky, Tom experiences a type of motherly love for his aunt Polly, a simple, kind-hearted women, who becomes a substitute parental figure. Even though Tom uses every trick in his book to manipulate or deceive his aunt, he doesn't mean to cause any harm. When aunt Polly accuses Tom of lying about his dream, he agrees but states that he kissed her before parting. She doubts his words and wonders why he kissed her.
He replies: "Because I loved you so, and you laid there moaning and I was so sorry." (p.121). This passage demonstrates the love expressed for his aunt/stepmother throughout the novel.Another important theme developed in the novel is imagination. The story describes mostly a boy, whose life is composed of fantasies of heroic adventures and narrow escapes.
A large part of Tom's behavior is due to his inexhaustible imagination, which is sometimes used to escape the difficulties of his world. We can notice his ability of persuasion at the beginning of the book, where he is punished for playing hooky, by being made to whitewash a fence, but ingeniously leads his friends to do the job for him by pretending it is a privilege. After applying his 'reverse psychology' method to a couple of boys, "He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it-namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain." (p.13) His vivid imagination repeats itself when he decides to become a pirate, robber or soldier. An example of this can be found on page 16 in an extract from the "military" conflict: "Tom's army won a great victory, after a long and hard-fought battle. Then the dead were counted, prisoners exchanged, the terms of the next disagreement agreed upon, and the day for the necessary battle appointed; after which the armies fell into line and marched away, and Tom turned homeward alone.
" As Tom, Huck and Joe hide on nearby Jackson's Island, imagination strikes again as they associate their names with those of fictional characters from various literature. They liked to be known as Tom Sawyer, The Black Avenger of the Spanish Main, Huck Finn the Red-Handed and Joe Harper the Terror of the Seas.At the very beginning of the novel, Twain emphasizes on Tom's rebellious character. In a town where almost all adults possess the power of authority over the youngsters, it is considered "normal" for kids to rebel against their superiors. Therefore, rebellion is believed to be another significant theme in the book. We can observe this, every time Tom and Huck sneak out of their windows at night to meet.
An example supporting the previous fact appears on page 58 as following: "A cry…and a single minute later he was dressed and out of the window and creeping along the roof…floors." Not only did Tom refuse to obey.