The Analyses Of The Tom Sawyer
The themes of the novel.
1. Moral and Social Maturation:
At the opening of the novel, Tom is engaged in and is often the organizer of childhood pranks and make-believe games. As the novel progresses, these initially consequence-free childish games begin to take on more and more gravity. Tom leads himself, Joe Harper, Huck, and, in the cave, Becky Thatcher into increasingly dangerous situations. He also finds himself in predicaments where he must put his concern for others above his concern for himself, such as when he takes Becky’s punishment and when he testifies at Injun Joe’s trial. As Tom begins to take initiative to help others instead of himself, he shows his increasing maturity, competence, and moral integrity.
Tom’s adventures to Jackson’s Island and McDougal’s Cave take him away from society. These symbolic removals help to prepare him to return to the village in a new, more adult outlook on his relationship to the community. Though early on Tom looks up to Huck as much older and wiser, by the end of the novel Tom’s maturity has surpassed Huck’s. Tom’s personal growth is evident in his insistence, in the face of Huck’s desire to flee all social constraints, that Huck stay with the Widow Douglas and become civilized.
2. Society’s Hypocrisy:
Twain complicates Tom’s position on the border between childhood and adulthood by ridiculing and criticizing the values and practices of the adult world toward which Tom is heading. Twain’s harshest satire exposes the hypocrisy—and often the essential childishness—of social institutions such as school, church, and the law, as well as public opinion. He also mocks individuals, although when doing so he tens to be less biting and focuses on flaws of character that we understand to be universal.
Twain shows that social authority does not always operate on wise, sound, or consistent principles and those institutions fall prey to the same kinds of mistakes that individuals do. In his depiction of families, Twain shows parental authority and constraint balanced by parental authority and constraint balanced by parental love and indulgence. Though she attempts to retrain and punish Tom, Aunt Polly always goes soft because of her love for her nephew. As the novel proceeds, a similar tendency toward indulgence becomes apparent within the broader community as well. The community shows its indulgence when Tom’s dangerous adventures provoke an outpouring o concern: the community is perfectly ready to forgive Tom’s wrongs if it can be sure of his safety. Twain ridicules the ability of his collective tendency toward generosity and forgiveness to go overbroad when he describes the town’s sentimental forgiveness of the villainous Injun Joe after his death.
The games the children play often seem attempts to subvert authority and escape from conventional society. Skipping school, sneaking out at night, playing tricks on the teacher, and running away for days at a time are all ways of breaking the rules and defying authority. Yet, Twain shows us that these games can be more conventional than they seem. Tom is highly concerned with conforming to the codes of behavior that he has learned from reading, and he outlines the various criteria that define a pirate, a Robin Hood, or a circus clown. The boy’s obsession with superstition is likewise an addiction to convention, which also mirrors the adult society’s focus on religion. Thus, the novel shows that adult existence is more similar to childhood existence than it might seem. Though the novel is critical of values and its behavior—Twain doesn’t really advocate subversion. The novel demonstrates the dangers of subverting authority just as it demonstrates the dangers of adhering to authority too strictly.
The symbols of the novel
1. The Cave:
The cave represents a trial that Tom has to pass before he can graduate into maturity. Coming-of-age stories often involve tests in which the protagonist is separated from the rest of the society for a period of time and faces significant dangers or challenges. Only after having survived on the strength of his personal resources is Tom ready to rejoin society.
2. The Storm:
The storm on Jackson’s Island symbolizes the danger involved in the boy’s removal from society. It forms part of an interruptive pattern in the novel, in which periods of relative peace and tranquility alternate with episodes of high adventure or danger. Later, when Tom is sick, he believes that the storm hit to indicate that God’s wrath is directed art him personally. The storm thus becomes an external symbol of Tom’s conscience.
3. The treasure:
The treasure is a symbolic goal that marks the end of the boy’s journey. It becomes a indicator of Tom’s transition into adulthood and Huck’s movement into civilized society. It also symbolizes the boy’s heroism, marking them as exceptional in a world where conformity is the rule.
The analysis of several quotations of Oliver Twist
1. The first quotation
“I ain’t doing my duty by that boy, and that’s the Lord’s truth, goodness knows. Spare the rod and spile the child, as the Good Book says. I’m a laying up sin and suffering for us both, I know. He’s full of the Old Scratch, but laws-a-me! he’s my own dead sister’s boy, poor thing, and I ain’t got the heart to lash him, somehow. Every time I let him off, my conscience does hurt me so, and every time I hit him my old heart most breaks.”
This quotation is from Chapter 1, when Tom has just escaped Aunt Polly’s grasp once again. Aunt Polly’s mixture of amusement and frustration at Tom’s antics is characteristic of her good humor. She attempts to discipline Tom out of a sense of duty more than out of any real indignation. In fact, she often seems to admire Tom’s cleverness and his vivacity. Her inner conflict about her treatment of Tom is summed up in the final sentence of this passage.
The faithful recreation of regional dialects is a characteristic element of Twain’s style. Aunt Polly uses a colloquial vocabulary and pronunciation that may be difficult for a reader unfamiliar with these speech patterns. Twain’s minute attention to language is an important aspect of his realism—his project of capturing the uniqueness of American frontier life. Twain carefully studied the speech of his local Missouri community and experimented with different ways of rendering it in writing. Furthermore, he attended closely to the internal variations in speech even within such a small town as Hannibal(rendered in his fiction as St. Petersburg). The differences between the language of rich people and poor people, between the language of blacks and whites, often find expression in Twain’s dialogue. In addition to its distinctive idiom and accent, Aunt Polly’s speech is peppered with clichÃ©’s and folk wisdom, mixing Scripture and local saying in a way that gives structure and meaning to her experience.
2. The second quotation
“Oh come, now, you don’t mean to let on that you like it?”
The brush continued to move.
“Like it? Well, I don’t see why I oughtn’t to like it. Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?”
That put the thing in a new light. Ben stopped nibbling his apple. Tom swept his brush daintily back and forth — stepped back to note the effect — added a touch here and there — criticised the effect again — Ben watching every move and getting more and more interested, more and more absorbed. Presently he said:
“Say, Tom, let me whitewash a little.”
This interchange between Ben Rogers and Tom occurs during the whitewashing episode from Chapter 2. One of Tom’s earliest exploits in the novel, the whitewashing scam gives us a thorough initial look at Tom’s ingenious character. Most evident is this dialogue with Ben Rogers is Tom’s consummate skill as an actor and his instinctive understanding of human behavior. In these moments of prankish virtuosity, Tom always keeps one step ahead of his victims, anticipating their reactions and cornering them verbally into the response he desires. In painting these scenes, Twain draws on the American folk tradition of the trickster. (The Br’er Rabbit are another well-known example of this type of story.)
This episode also gives Twain a chance to advance the idea that certain values are as much a matter of convention as anything. The moral with which Twain concludes this amusing scene is, “work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and …play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.” The arbitrariness of many conventions and the absurdity with which people desire things just because they are forbidden are facts of life that Twain scrutinizes again and again in the novel.
3. The third quotation:
Mr. Walters fell to “showing off,” with all sorts of official bustlings and activities, giving orders, delivering judgments, discharging directions here, there, everywhere that he could find a target. The librarian “showed off” — running hither and thither with his arms full of books and making a deal of the splutter and fuss that insect authority delights in. The young lady teachers “showed off” — bending sweetly over pupils that were lately being boxed, lifting pretty warning fingers at bad little boys and patting good ones lovingly. The young gentlemen teachers “showed off” with small scoldings and other little displays of authority and fine attention to discipline — and most of the teachers, of both sexes, found business up at the library, by the pulpit; and it was business that frequently had to be done over again two or three times (with much seeming vexation). The little girls “showed off” in various ways, and the little boys “showed off” with such diligence that the air was thick with paper wads and the murmur of scufflings. And above it all the great man sat and beamed a majestic judicial smile upon all the house, and warmed himself in the sun of his own grandeur — for he was “showing off,” too.
This Sunday school scene from Chapter 4 shows the height of Twain’s leveling satire. While Twain makes explicit jabs at the religious spirit and the structure of organized religion elsewhere in the novel, in this scene he directs his mockery toward human nature in a more generalized way. Much of the comic effect of this scene stems from the uniformity of the ridiculous behavior exhibited by teachers, students, boys, and girls. So strong is the human need to impress and to win approval that not even Judge Thatcher is exempt from the temptation of “showing off.” Twain suggests that the desire to stand out is universal, which means that in their efforts to distinguish themselves, people wind up all looking alike.
For the adults, “showing off” means attempting to conceal the rough edges of their schoolroom establishment, prettifying the Sunday school so that the judge will get an enhanced sense of what is normal there. Such sugarcoating of reality is the particular object of Twain’s contempt, and it is exactly what he does not want his fiction to do. Twain is committed to realism, to depicting the everyday world with all its irregularities and imperfections. In fact, Twain’s penchant for roughness and variation makes hi satire more tender and compassionate than it might otherwise be.