Thirst for Adventure

August 31, 2010 § 1 Comment

While The Adventures of Tom Sawyer serve as an entertaining read about boyhood it also serves as a mirror into Mark Twain’s life. Like in “A Window Into Memory” I agree that Mark Twain had a childhood that echoed many characteristics of Tom Sawyer’s.

The similarities between Tom Sawyer and Mark Twain can be seen through obvious facts in that both boys grew up in similar setting. They grew up along the Mississippi River and both their fathers died at an early age, so they were primarily raised by women. On a more personal level, though, parallels between the two can be seen in their characteristics, one of the characteristics being that both boys share a thirst for adventure. Tom Sawyer seeks adventure by camping out on the island, exploring the cave late at night and examining the haunted house. These escapades reflect Mark Twain’s sense of adventure because, in 1853 (not even at the age of 18-still merely a child) Twain “pined for the wider horizon of the world.”

A Window Into Memory?

August 31, 2010 § 2 Comments

The life described in Samuel Clemen’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer draws on more than pure imagination for its creation. Samuel Clemen, also know as Mark Twain, had a childhood that echoed many characteristics of Tom Sawyer’s.

Twain’s childhood was also spent along the Mississippi River, though it was not quite as care-free as Tom’s. Many of the characters from Tom Sawyer appear to have been drawn from Twain’s real-life acquaintances.  For example, Tom Sawyer’s aunt’s faith in herbal remedies echoes that of Twain’s own mother’s experiments on her sickly young boy. Furthermore, the time frame in which Tom Sawyer occurred was roughly the same as Mark Twain’s own childhood. Mark Twain spent much of his young life in the town Hannibal alongside the Mississipi River, similar to Tom Sawyer’s town. Also, the many superstitions that riddle Tom Sawyer’s experiences were also  prevalent throughout Mark Twain’s childhood. They also shared the same mischievous nature that defines most of Tom Sawyer’s adventures.

While in later life Samuel Clemens went on to become a widely successful writer under the name Mark Twain, he never forgot his time by the river. Indeed, Mark Twain is a term taken from his days of piloting river craft. I whole-heartedly concur with the conclusion drawn in Madeline’s post, that Mark Twain’s experiences with nature  and the Mississippi River had a huge impact on his later life and literature.

It’s All Harmless Fun, Right?

August 29, 2010 § 5 Comments

Passage:  bottom of page 53 to top of page 55

In my opinion, in many of the interactions throughout Tom Sawyer nature is subservient to man. Take for example the start of chapter VII, in particular the portion on pages 53 through 55. In this excerpt Tom Sawyer uses a tick to assuage his boredom during class. Tom, finding himself unable to concentrate, gives up on it entirely when he remember that he has a tick stuff in his pocket. He is thankful for the distraction, and thinks of the tick only in terms of how it can profit him. While this line of thought might not be unsurprising for something like a tick, the same thought process is applied to many other animals and aspects of nature throughout the books. When he released the tick, it “glowed with gratitude” (pg 53) for its freeddom, but “it was premature” (53) because Tom proceed to guide and prod him with a pin. The tick is utterly at his mercy, used as a source of entertainment. Tom “exercises” the tick, forcing it to run to and fro. The choice of the word exercise in context shows how utterly Tom is in control of the tick. He is like a God to the tick, but not even a malicious one. He just merely views the tick as a lesser creature that is there for his amusement. He doesn’t even recognize what he is doing is tormenting the tick, he just does it because he is bored. His friend Joe Harper joins in and they make a game of running the tick ragged as it tries to escape them. They boys don’t even recognize the irony of what they are doing. Here they sit, angry over how they are trapped and forced to work when they want to be free. And what are they doing to pass the time? “Exercising the prisoner” (54).

This “harmless” fun reveals the way Tom and his compatriots view nature. From irreverent use of dead cats to beetles and other insects stored in pockets, Tom Sawyer merely sees nature as another toy to play with. The power rests with the people during the human-nature interactions of Tom Sawyer, and while the characters seem to have an appreciation for nature and what it gives them, there is never any doubt who is on top in the end.

Edit: Changed some stuff, added the irony part.

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