Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, his seminal 1876 novel, has been both lauded and decried by multitudes of readers who almost universally regard Twain in a favorable light. Negative reviews of this work are found most easily among admitted Twain fans—something that seems to stem from the inevitable comparisons to Twain's other works, most notably The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Despite mixed reviews, Tom Sawyer is an important work, particularly for understanding Twain's motivations his own life.
[...] That the Twain's image would be first established during an attempt to get something through coercion (through the government) rather than following Huck Finn's inclination to not “give a dern for a thing ‘thout it's tollable hard to (Twain 139) shows how far from his supposed ideal Twain traveled. Works Cited Cox, James M. Critical Essays on The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Ed. Gary Scharnhorst. New York: GK Hall & Co 88-102. Fetterly, Judith. Sanctioned Rebel.” Ibid. 119-129 Norton, Charles A. [...]
[...] Judith Fetterly would likely dispute the whole basis for this question, since she sees Tom Sawyer as receiving “recognition” through his whippings, rather than punishment (Fetterly 120). Whatever the case, Tom Sawyer represents a fork in life's road—a choice between good and evil, between aggression and non-aggression. Henry Nash Smith, in his “Discovery of River and describes Tom Sawyer as an “embryonic everyman” who must face hostile, unnatural society (Smith 85). The choices that confront Tom, though, include not only the choice between Injun Joe's way and some road of non-aggression. [...]
[...] That Tom is portrayed alternately, according to Spengemann, as a “foolish then as an “innocent,” and finally as a “worldly success” shows a linear progression in Tom's life (Spengemann 41). It is this progression that must contain the reminder Twain intends for his adult readership. Some have suggested that the journey is mostly just the standard life journey for a boy/man, including the pubescent quickening of sexual desire. Tom Towers rightly points out the function of clothing as an oppressive device, i.e. [...]
[...] Some critics, including Spengemann, take this full-fledged immersion of Tom into society as a sign that Twain is ultimately dissatisfied not only with Tom's choices, but Tom as a character (Spengemann 46). Spengemann asserts that the book is centrally about Tom's “initiation into society” (Spengemann 46). While it is true that Huck Finn is given the ability to speak for himself in the work bearing his name, it is not obvious that this indicates a condemnation of Tom Sawyer. As was previously noted, Twain explained that this work was intended, in part, to remind adults of what they once had been. [...]
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