Category Archives: Mark Twain

What led to the reading of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

  • Am currently, this summer, working in a Children’s Dept. of a public library (& helping with the Children’s Summer Reading Program)
  • Tried, some years ago, to read the what some consider one of the most significant American novels, Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain; I found it hard to decipher the colloquial dialogue and stopped within a few pages
  • When I was a 8 years old I was in a children’s theater production of “Tom Sawyer,” playing the character of Amy Lawrence.  I was curious to find out her actual role within the book
  • I like Mark Twain, and in feeling motivated right now to read a children’s book, I was curious about this well-known children’s classic

I must say the book does not disappoint.  I guess in some ways Twain was “preaching to the choir” with someone such as myself who was eager to learn about Tom Sawyer, his family situation and about his friends, Huck Finn and Becky Thatcher, as well as several others. The story takes place in the 1840s in the small town/village of St. Petersburg on the Mississippi River in Missouri.  The town is small enough that when a crisis occurs all of the townspeople are made aware.  It makes me realize now how true the expression “it takes a whole village to raise a child” is.

The character, Tom Sawyer, it turns out, is something of a young rascal who sometimes pushes things too far and suffers some as a result.  His loyalty blended with a shrewdness makes him admirable, yet often suspect, especially in the eyes of some of his elders.   And with his friends, Tom strives hard to please them while simultaneously maneuvering to get just what he wants from a situation.  It is hard to fault this boy, however, as he somehow usually manages to land on his feet time and again.

It is said that The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is semi-autobiographical – Twain says in the book’s preface that Tom is modeled after himself and two of his boyhood friends.  It turns out that several of the other characters are also based on the author’s childhood acquaintances.  Most of Twain’s boyhood was spent in the small town of Hannibal, which, like Tom Sawyer’s St. Petersburg, is along the banks of the Mississippi.