The Magic of Tom Sawyer
The discovery of Tom Sawyer in a Chinese textbook really came as a shock for me. I ran across the report on this novel by a Grade Six boy when I was tutoring him English. The little boy had been required to write this report after the Chinese class. Young as he was, he had made several remarkable comments in his homework among which was his advocate for Chinese students to have an adventure life as Tom had. However, at the end of his book review he came to pity himself and his peers a little bit , saying that such a desire could hardly be achieved, given the fact that they have lots of homework and examinations to finish and in the meantime their parents won’t allow them such a risk.
As well as shocked, I was in a sudden choke of shame. If my memory works properly, it was not until the sophomore year that I first read this book which was unexpectedly gained as a trophy in the First Interpretation Contest. To make things worse, I skimmed and scanned this amazing novel, as a result of which I could not figure out the right sequence of the events, let alone a deep reflection on the theme. I felt that I had lagged behind.
It took me quite some time to survive this shock as well as shame. And when I eventually get over it, another thing struck my mind----why did the compliers include Tom Sawyer as a text in primary school textbook. Is it simply because the book entertains school childrens’ curiosity, since it depicts life of some black children? Or, is it an effort to equip our children with some foreign literature since it is for the moment the trend?…Questions like such haunted my mind so much that I felt it an obligation to reread the book in detail.
The answers gradually surfaced themselves as I proceed the reading and I found myself on the compiler’s side. The style of Mark Twain’s writing as well as the personal traits of its protagonist, Tom Sawyer ,has combined to create the magic of this adventure novel, and for short I will name it "magic of Tom".
Mark Twain’s unique language fascinated me in the first place. This novel features the frequent use of the conversational rule of Black English----Double negatives make a negative, which constantly reminded me that this is about black Americans and nothing else. Mark Twain was also skillful with the emloyment of contracted forms which is quite common in black oral English. These two together creates a lifelike scenarios for Tom and the reader came to perceive Tom and his deeds through his identity both as a black and a child. I think this is the very reason that Mark Twain has been elevated off other writers. He tells about truth and he tells about real life. He involves the life of black Americans into his book, and shows the world that everyone has a role to play on the stage of life.Tom has. Huck has. And so do many others. No matter how many scandlous charges were brought against him for this matter, no one can deny his outstandingness and unique perception.
Tom Sawyer is of Mark Twain style in another aspect, that is the author’s attention to the interaction between him and his readers. Different from other writers, Mark Twain bore in his mind to giving some of his own opinions on the events which would lead his readers for better understanding. Thus the reader would hardly forget where has the story comes to and why certain events would occur. Readers seldom find themselves alone in the reading, but rather they have Mark for company, who would share with them some humors.
Well, it’s high time for me to elaborate about the protagonist, Tom Sawyer. This is a extremely mischievous boy. In the eyes of his village folks, he is nothing but a trouble-maker. He fights and swears and hates to go to church. Even aunt Polly, his blood-kin, would not want him around in her house. I bet many a Chinese adult would have no fondness for such a boy and if anything, try to keep him as far away as possible from their own children.
However, my readers, I would like to remind you in advance that you should not judge a boy by his appearance, especially in the case of Tom. This little boy is not that simple as he seems.There is a wisdom in his mischievousness. To understand Tom, you have got to dig deeper. A reader myself, I have noticed 4 important traits of Tom that I believe has contributed to his magic.
Firstly, Tom knows far too well how people think. Remember how Tom got Rodgers Ben paint the fence for him?
When Ben teased"Hi-yi! You’re up a stump, ain’t you?", Tom gave no answer. But rather he"surveyed his last touch with the eye of an artist, then he gave his brush another gentle sweep and surveyed the result, as before." "Tom swept his brush daintily back and forth—stepped bach to note the effect—added a touch here and there—critized the effect again."This concentratedness and enjoyfulness on the part of Tom made Ben water for the painting work. Yet he would not confer THIS PRIVERLEGE to Ben so easily. He continued to make Ben itch for it. "Aunt polly’s awful particular about this fence—right here on the street, you know—but if it was the back fence I wouldn’t mind and she wouldn’t. I reckon there ain’t one boy in athousand, maybe two thousand, that can do it the way it’s going to be." "Jim wanted do it, but she wouldn’t let him; Sid wanted to do it, and she wouldn’t let Sid. Now don’t you see how I’m fixed…"However, for Tom the right time had not come and there was still more to be expected. Ben indeed bite the hook. He offered to EXCHANGE for it. And all the children in St. Petersburg bite the hook. They got the PRIVILEGE of painting the fence at the expense of going "bankrupt" with their playthings. And Tom, the "retired" artist got his fence painted three times and lots of company and also lots of trifle playthings.
Traditionally, the aggressive male children would resort to fist to get their peers on their own agenda. But it was not the case with Tom. He knew the mind-set of the boys ---"in order to get a man or a boy convet a thing, it’s only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain." Bearing this in mind, there is no doubt that he could succeding in cheating his peers.
Not only the children but also the adult cannot survive Tom’s wisdom. Remember how our pirates returned from Jackson’s island?
" There was a rustle in the gallery, which nobody noticed; a moment later the church door creaked; the minister raised his streaming eyes… the congregation rose and stared while the three dead boys came marching up the aisle…"（Chapter 18） Scaring and somewhat astonishing, right? Why didn’t these boys return earlier since they had been grief homesick and relief their families who had been repenting for the loss of them? Perhaps many adults may condemn them as being naughty and ungrateful.
But, consider it for a moment and you will find that this is again a strategy of Tom’s. A funeral is a solemn occasion sybolizing the mortal end of a person. grief and praying has apparently been the theme for Aunt Polly and the villegers. The sudden revival of the begoners would surely makes them cherish them all the more. Under such circumastances, Tom would surely save himself scoldness and punishment and by the way, elevate him to the-apple-of-the eye position for the moment. That would sound kind of ironic for the adults since they had been fooled with by these three boys. But sorry, he is Tom and you cannot readily prepare for it.
Second, Tom’s courage for starting an adventure life. Rebelling seems to have been deeply rooted in American literature, and we can also find this quality in Tom. He hated Sunday school. He hated going to the church and being tortured by the miniser’s preaching. He hated being misunderstood by Aunt Polly… He hated his life in St. Petersburg. He had desperately wanted to break away from the old life together with its traditions, authority and misunderstanding.Yet being rebelling is not enough for an adventure career. It’s the courage to get started that matters. Tom has it. He dares to seperate himself from the protection （though very little） of anut Polly. He dares to confront all the risks （get lost or even get killed） of the would-be life.
Third, the boy’s ability to manage the personnel. To succeed a pirate career, Tom knew far better that he cannot make it alone.To begin with, he had to find his partner. See who he had included in this pirate group? It’s Joe Harper and Huckleberry Fin. Why did Tom chose them and nobody else? The truth is as follows. Joe had just been whipped by his mother for drinking some cream while he had never tasted. He had firmly believed that she was tired of him and wished him to go. Any children want to be loved and any denial of love would bring them suffering. Defintely, Joe wants to break away from this suffering and living a pirate life is a pretty good way out. And Huck. He was an orphen and "don’t even get enough to eat". To be a pirate or not makes no difference to Huck.
Fourth, Tom’s his knowledge about Adventure. As for where they should go for treasures, Tom gave his opinion--- "It’s hid in mighty paticular places, somethimes on islands, sometimes in rotten chests under the end of a limb of an old dead tree, just where the shadow falls at midnight, but most under the floor in haunted huses." Tom also gave his reasons why treasures could be found in the haunted houses---"They most always put in a dead man when they bury a treasure under a tree, to look out for it." While reading this part, I had been wondering whether they could succeed. The thing is that they made it because Injun Joe really had hid the treaures in the haunted house. I couldn’t give them a big round of applouse. Another case in point is his adventure with Becky in the cave. They had got lost and were in a dire need to find the way out. See what Tom had done---"He made a smoke—mark for future guidance and started upon their quest" "He took a kite line from his pocket, tied it to a projection…" How calm and clever is our hero! I think his background knowledge about adventure has, to a large extent, contributed to his success.
At this point, the compilers’ intentions seemed comletely clear to me. Tom Sawyer is introduced to China neither for fun nor for fashion only, it is an effort of our government to educate our children in a brand new style. Chinese children have long been consumed in the textbooks and they as a whole lack the spirit of exploring which is vital to their further study and career. Tom Sawyer, with its irresistable magic, serves as a guide to invoke the courage and ability to take adventure in children. Mark Twain had it right when he said, "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." It’s high time for Chinese parents set their children from their bay of excessive protection and allowed them freedom to strive on their own.
I had not expected that I would write so much about this novel. Yet I did. Well, Tom’s magic probably had worked.
I believe that one of the factors that makes a piece of literature or even a movie a masterpiece is how well the reader can relate to the story. This is definitely a book everyone can relate to.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a literary masterpieces, written in 1876 by the famous author Mark Twain. Tom Sawyer is a mischievous young boy who lives in the small town on the Mississippi River called St. Petersburg. The story line is simple, the book reads like a biography or a memoir of a summer in Tom Sawyer's life.
Tom Sawyer seems to be the precursor of and the template for misfit kids such as Dennis the Menace, Malcolm in the Middle, and Calvin and Hobbs. What makes this story great is that Tom Sawyer represents everything that is great about childhood. The book is filled with Tom's adventures playing pirates and war with his friend Joe Harper. Tom has a trusted friend, Huck Finn, who few of the adults approve of. The book is filled with ideas of how the world works, such as how pirates and robbers work, that are so innocent, they could only come from a child. It is a story filled with action, adventure, ingenious ideas, love, and schoolyard politics. The whole story is seemingly a complication of what people did or wish they did during their childhood.
The book is a little difficult to read at first. Personally, it takes me a little while to get used to the 19th century dialect in the book. Other than referring to persons of African decent in derogatory terms （which I'm sure uses terms even young children already know）， the book would be an enjoyable read for people of all ages. I highly recommend this book for anyone looking to feel young again, if just for a few hundred pages.
The first impression that the boy Tom gave me was a naughty, mischievous boy, just as what Aunt Polly said. He never lacked the curiosity to explore new places, sometimes even risking his life, which I did not dare to! There were some great adventures of him with Huck or Joe. Huck was an orphan, and Joe was Tom’s classmate. Everybody in the small village knew Tom, mainly for Tom’s—you know kind of gallantry!
I should tell you the adventures. The origin of the attempt was that Tom and Huck was getting curious to the world of outside, and they made an effort to run-away. However, when they were in the graveyard, some people appeared. They were Injun Joe, Huck’s father, named Potter, and a doctor. Tom and Huck quickly hid behind the bush, and they saw them digging the coffins out, probably finding something valuable. They did not realize that what they witnessed was a murder! Tom and Huck were extremely afraid, and they ran away rapidly. On the court, Potter was being accused of the murderer; however, Tom declared that it was Injun Joe who used Potter’s knife to kill the young doctor. On hearing this, Injun Joe broke the glass and ran away! This scared everybody, and Tom’s brother, Sid, said that he always heard Tom mumbling something when he was asleep, and sometimes even shouting. Indeed, the accident was fluttering everybody in the town with fear.
Before, Tom once fell in love with a girl called Lawrence. And he showed off in front of the girl, trying to win the girl’s heart, but Lawrence ignored Tom’s appearance, and it made Tom sad. At present, Tom went for another girl for Becky. Yet, when Becky knew that Tom once loved Lawrence （it was probably childish thoughts）， she refused Tom. Tom got so depressed that he resolutely committed the second escape.
He made contact with Huck and Joe that afternoon, about where to meet, the code words of meeting, and the route, and so on and so forth. Each of them brought some food, and Huck brought some pipes （remind that Huck had no real home, and I had no ideas where he got the things）.(www.lz13.cn) At midnight, they met at the place, and they took a raft down the river. After drifting for about several hours, they finally reached the destiny. There they lived for about several weeks, and while everybody thought they were drowned, they had a great time. They were no problems of food or water shortages. They promised to be a pirate, and would live there forever.
If you were out from your relatives for a long time, wouldn’t you miss home? It was the same for those children. After several weeks, Joe felt that he missed home very much, and Tom could not seem to stop him. On this, Tom brought Joe and Huck his secret—
On one night, when the rest of the boys fell asleep （of course they slept outside）， Tom crept from the camp, and headed toward the town. He sneaked to his aunt’s room, and hid under the bed, while everybody- Mary （Tom’s sister）， Sid, Aunt Polly and Joe Harper’s mother were having a meeting. There were a lot of tears, about how the boys were killed, and how they would treat the boys if they ever lived again, such things. Tom almost wanted to get out of the bed and hug Aunt Polly, but he couldn’t. At last, everybody went to sleep. Tom went out from the bed, and flew to the camp. That was the secret— that the boys will go to their own funeral!
While the boys were outside, all of the people in the town were discussing about the accidents. The town was immediately covered with a sense of doom. So the funeral was raised. Everybody wore a black suit, and they prayed something along with the priest. Just then, they saw somebody entering the gate, and what they saw was unbelievable. Three young souls came out from their coffins and showed up in front of everybody! The change of the atmosphere was imaginable. Aunt Polly, Joe Harper’s mother, Mary and Sid were astounded to find that Tom came so vivid in front of them, and so Tom and Joe became a hero in the school, even in the town.
The real adventures of Tom were finding the treasures.