Monday, September 29, 2014

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer


v     This is a coming of age story about a boy who lives in a fictional town, St. Petersburg, Missouri, along the Mississippi River. It's a light-hearted, adventurous comedy. St. Petersburg was based on Twain's home town of Hannibal:

Hannibal, Missouri, from Google Maps
v     It's also the first in a series of stories about the life of Tom Sawyer, including Tom Sawyer, Abroad, and Tom Sawyer, Detective.
v     Tom Sawyer is a lovable rascal. He's lazy, arrogant, immature, manipulative, and a liar, but he has a good heart. Throughout the story, he gets himself and his friends into and out of trouble.
v     Tom's an orphan, so he lives with his kind-hearted aunt Polly, and his half-brother Sid, who is well behaved, but dislikes Tom. Sid is a tattle-tale, he tells aunt Polly every bad thing that Tom does.
v     This is a coming of age story for two reasons. First, because Tom discovers girls, and falls in love with Becky Thatcher (daughter of Judge Thatcher). Second, because Tom witnesses a murder and sees the darker side of life.
v     Tom does lots of bad things. He skips school to go swimming. He steals jam from aunt Polly. He gets into fights. And, when his aunt makes him paint a fence on Saturday as punishment, he tricks a bunch of other children to do it for him, convincing them it's so much fun that they pay him to get to paint it.

Painting the Fence, by Norman Rockwell
v     He then uses all the gifts they gave him to get enough tickets at Sunday school to earn a free bible - well almost. As a judge was just about to give it, he asked Tom to name the first two apostles, and Tom answered, "David and Goliath."

Tom's Final Exam, by Luis Dominguez
v     Tom has two best friends. One, Joe Harper, is much like him. The second, Huckleberry (Huck) Finn, is the son of the town drunk.

Tom thinks Huck is lucky because he can do whatever he wants - play, fish, swim, curse, smoke, etc., and he never has to go to church or school. He doesn't have to wear clean clothes. But then, Huck has an abusive father he has to hide from, and all the town shuns him, even though Huck turns out to be a hero.
v     To make this story exciting, there is a villain named Injun Joe. First, Injun Joe kills the town doctor, and blames it on someone else. Tom & Huck witness the murder.

Witnessing a Murder, by Luis Dominguez
v     Joe killed the doctor in the town cemetery during an argument over extra payment, while digging up corpses for medical experiments. He blamed another drunk named Muff Potter.
v     Feeling guilty, but too scared to name Joe as the killer, Tom, Joe, and Huck run away by raft to Jackson's Island on the Mississippi, to play pirates.

Boys on the Raft, by Luis Dominguez

Everyone in town assumes the boys have died, so they return home in time for their funerals, and shock the town.
v     Tom then testifies against Joe, who escapes, jumping out the courtroom window.
v     Then the story revolves around a haunted house and a cave, where Injun Joe buries a chest full of gold, and Tom Sawyer finds it.
v     At the end of the story, the cave is sealed with Joe inside. He dies of starvation, and Tom & Huck go back to get the gold, which they leave to Judge Thatcher to hold for them until they grow up.
v     Huck Finn saved an elderly widow named Mrs. Douglas, whom Injun Joe wanted to rob and kill. Huck had been brave enough to follow Joe for days, learning where the treasure was, and he heard Joe's plan. So, Huck went to her neighbor, Mr. Jones, who then saved her life, scaring off Joe. At the end of the story, Widow Douglas takes in Huck as her own child.

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