|Language||English, Limited Edition (Spanish)|
|Genre||Bildungsroman, picaresque novel, satire, folk, children’s literature|
|Publisher||American Publishing Company|
|LC Class||PZ7.T88 Ad 2001|
|Followed by||The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn|
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain is an 1876 novel about a young boy growing up along the Mississippi River. It is set in the 1840s in the fictional town of St. Petersburg, inspired by Hannibal, Missouri, where Twain lived as a boy. In the novel Tom has several adventures, often with his friend, Huck. One such adventure, Tom’s whitewashing of a fence, has been adapted into paintings and referenced in other pieces of popular culture. Originally a commercial failure the book ended up being the best selling of any of Twain’s works during his lifetime.
lives with his Aunt Polly and his half-brother Sid. He skips school to swim and is made to whitewash the fence the next day as punishment. He cleverly persuades his friends to trade him small treasures for the privilege of doing his work.
Tom falls in love with Becky Thatcher, a new girl in town, and persuades her to get “engaged” by kissing him. But their romance collapses when she learns Tom has been “engaged” previously to Amy Lawrence. Becky cried for a great deal of time until the other students began to notice, and she became embarrassed. Shortly after Becky shuns him, he accompanies Huckleberry Finn to the graveyard at night, where they witness a trio of body snatchers, Dr. Robinson, Muff Potter, and Injun Joe, getting into a fight in which Robinson is murdered by Injun Joe. Tom and Huckleberry Finn swear a blood oath to not tell anyone about the murder, as they feel that if they do, Injun Joe would murder them.
Bored by school, Tom, his best friend Joe Harper, and Huck run away to an island in the Mississippi called Jackson’s Island. While enjoying their new-found freedom, they become aware that the community is sounding the river for their bodies. Tom sneaks back home one night to observe the commotion. After a brief moment of remorse at his loved ones’ suffering, he is struck by the idea of appearing at his own funeral. The trio later carry out this scheme by making a sensational sudden appearance in the church in the middle of their joint funeral service.
Back in school, Tom gets himself back in Becky’s favor after he nobly accepts the blame and punishment for a book she has ripped.
In court, Joe pins the murder on Muff Potter, but Tom and Huckleberry Finn know he is innocent. At Potter’s trial, Tom decides to speak out and Joe escapes through a window before he can be apprehended. Henceforth the boys live in constant fear of Joe’s revenge on them for incriminating him.
Summer arrives, and Tom and Huck go hunting for buried treasure in a haunted house. After venturing upstairs they hear a noise below. Peering through holes in the floor, they see Injun Joe disguised as a deaf-mute Spaniard; Injun Joe and his companion plan to bury some stolen treasure of their own. From their hiding spot, Tom and Huck wriggle with delight at the prospect of digging it up. By chance the villains discover an even greater gold hoard buried in the hearth and carry it all off to a better secret hiding place. The boys are determined to find where it has gone. One night Huck spots them and follows them. He overhears their plans to attack the wealthy Widow Douglas. By running to fetch help, Huck prevents the crime and becomes an anonymous hero.
In the meantime, Tom goes on a picnic to McDougal’s Cave with Becky and their classmates. Tom and Becky get separated from the others and wander lost in the extensive cave complex for the next few days. Becky gets extremely dehydrated and starved, so Tom’s search for a way out gets even more desperate. He accidentally encounters Injun Joe in the caves one day, but is not seen by his nemesis. Eventually, he finds a way out, and they are joyfully welcomed back by their community. As a preventive measure, Judge Thatcher, Becky’s father, has McDougal’s Cave sealed off with an iron door, but this traps Injun Joe inside. When Tom hears of the sealing several days later and directs a posse to the cave, they find Injun Joe’s corpse just inside the sealed entrance, starved to death.
A week later, having deduced from Injun Joe’s presence at McDougal’s Cave that the villain must have hidden the stolen gold inside, Tom takes Huck to the cave and they find the box of gold, the proceeds of which are invested for them. The Widow Douglas adopts Huck, but he finds the restrictions of a civilized home life painful. He attempts to escape back to his vagrant life. Tom tricks him into thinking that he can later join Tom’s new scheme of starting a robber band if he returns to the widow. Reluctantly, Huck agrees and goes back to her.
Mark Twain (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), real name Samuel Langhorne Clemens, was an American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer. Among his novels are The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1875) and its sequel, the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), the latter often called “The Great American Novel”.
Twain was raised in Hannibal, Missouri, which later provided the setting for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. He served an apprenticeship with a printer and then worked as a typesetter, contributing articles to the newspaper of his older brother Orion Clemens. He later became a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River before heading west to join Orion in Nevada. He referred humorously to his lack of success at mining, turning to journalism for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise. His humorous story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”, was published in 1865, based on a story that he heard at Angels Hotel in Angels Camp, California, where he had spent some time as a miner. The short story brought international attention and was even translated into French. His wit and satire, in prose and in speech, earned praise from critics and peers, and he was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty.
Twain earned a great deal of money from his writings and lectures, but he invested in ventures that lost most of it—notably the Paige Compositor, a mechanical typesetter that failed because of its complexity and imprecision. He filed for bankruptcy in the wake of these financial setbacks, but he eventually overcame his financial troubles with the help of Henry Huttleston Rogers. He chose to pay all his pre-bankruptcy creditors in full, even after he had no legal responsibility to do so.
Twain was born shortly after an appearance of Halley’s Comet, and he predicted that he would “go out with it” as well; he died the day after the comet returned. He was lauded as the “greatest humorist this country has produced”, and William Faulkner called him “the father of American literature”.