The Realistic Hero Tom Sawyer, the main character of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, written by Mark Twain, is an average boy who is bored with his civilized life and escapes these constraints by pulling pranks, and pulling other mischievous things. The character of Tom, in the most part, is presented as a realistic and convincing boy. He is kind and loving, but also cruel, stupid, and hypocritical of others at times, as well as, he shows maturation throught the story. The story of Tom Sawyer,as well as being about a realistic character, is a story that is intrusive to adults and children. Tom is shown throughout the story as a typical boy of his time and place.
He has a loving, happy home, with his devoted Aunt Polly to care for him. He is mostly restricted by his home routine of prayers, meals, chores, bedtime, and things like that, but when his routine life gets to dull, he has the nearby river and woods, where he can go to escape. Though Tom is not ” the model boy” of the village, he even hates the “model boy.” He plays boyish pranks on Aunt Polly, Sid, his friends, and everyone in town. He steals, lies, plays hooky, fights, and goes swimming secretly, but he is a normal boy and this is what normal boys do at his age. Tom is a clever, imaginative boy who has a good knowledge about human nature and knows how to use it.
He continually outwits his Aunt Polly, and also persuades other boys to do his work for him without them even knowing of his trickery. One example of this is in the whitewashing scene, when his Aunt Polly makes him whitewash the outside fence before he is allowed to play. He slyly conviences the first boy by saying “..I don’t see why oughtn’t like it. Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence everyday?” (21) With this cunning use of words he manipulates the boy to whitewash the fence, which leads to others also joining in to help. In the end, Tom has made a tidy profit as well as got the whitewashing done without actually doing it.
As well as Tom being known as a strong boy, he also has fears. He is afraid, at various times in the book, of being harmed by Injun Joe, starving to death with Becky in the cave, of witchcraft, and of death during the thunderstorm when he is ill with the measles. Some of his fears are based on real dangers, such as with Injun Joe. Others are just simply fears in his mind. Partly by luck and partly by using his mind and courage, Tom is able to eventually triumph over his fears. Tom , who is usually a spirited guy, sometimes goes off by himself to be alone and think about his death.
Ususally these dark moods only last a very short time, then he is back to his rowdy self. For example, after being rejected by Becky, he goes off into his comforting woods and thinks about ways to get back at her, and even thinks about running away. Though he gets into these moods occasionally, a quick visit from his friends he totally forgets his depressed mood, and resorts back to his spirited self. Although Tom likes to rebel against society and its restrictions, he is basically respectable. He is the nephew of a woman who is the soul of suitability and who is instilled him with these values.
When Tom calculates his pranks and adventures in term’s of society’s reactions. At the end of the story, he even persuades his best friend Huck, who is an outcast in the town, to become “respectable” by telling him “Well, everybody does that way, Huck.” (243) Tom also conviences Huck to “be respectable” by telling him he won’t let him join his robber gang ” if you ain’t respectable.” Also another aspect of Tom that is realistic is how he grows throught the story. Tom starts out acting childish and irresponsible and ends up acting more mature and responsible. The story of Muff Potter begins with Tom and Huck going to a graveyard to try a superstitious belief. It ends with Tom defying superstition and fear of bodily harm and testify against Injun Joe in court, which then gets Muff Potter freed.
Another example of his maturation, which is an aspect of a realistic character is the relationship of Becky and Tom. It begins with Tom’s desertion of his sweetheart, Amy Lawerence, when he sees the pretty Becky in the Thather yard. The feud between the two is childish and petty. In the end, though, Tom keeps Becky from harm by taking her whipping for her in the school. Also Tom and Becky get lost in the caves due to Tom’s childish wish to explore, but he later shows maturity and courage by taking care and eventually rescuing Becky by finding a way out of the cave. He even risks meeting Injun Joe in the cave in order to find a way out of the cave. The next example of Tom’s maturation, which is a sign of being a realistic character is the Jackson Island story.
Tom runs away form Aunt Polly and Becky to play pirate. He and his friends manage to camp out for many days, feed and amuse themselves, and even protect themselves when a terrible storm hits. Tom shows concern for his aunt’s feelings by sneaking off the island and to let her know that he is safe. Because he wants to see his own funeral, he does not tell his Aunt Polly of his safety, but at least he had the thought to tell her, which shows somewhat of his maturity. The most important example of Tom’s maturation and authenticity of being realistic is the story of Injun Joe.
When Tom and a rescue party find Injun Joe dead in the cave, “Tom was touched, for he knew by his own experience how this wretch had suffered.” (227) This shows how Tom has learned the ability to consider the feelings of even an evil person like Injun Joe. As well as, the character of Tom is portrayed as a real boy living in a real time and place, he is also a symbol of eternal boyhood. Tom’s dreams are the dreams of all boys, which is to find treasure, to save his beloved from death, to triumph over the enemy, and to be a hero in the eyes of all the world. Tom’s dreams do come true in the book, and he enjoys the admiration he gets from everyone. This story basically shows how a child, whether it is a boy or a girl, should be let to do what they want to do. Through these experiences, the child will learn and understand the world better.
He or she will also come out of the situation or experience with a sense of maturation, though they may not realize it. The lesson an adult would learn may be that they should not let society dictate what they should feel or think, but that they should decide for themselves about their own situations or lives. The village, in relation to the adults, is a place where the adults are shallow, self-centered, and caught up in their appearences. The townspeople are only concentrating on making sure that they look the part of a well evolved town. The church is not used as a place of worship, but simply a place to display themselves. This use of satire, may show adults that they must not only be people who are based on outside appearences, but who have to be just as together on the inside.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a book about a realistic and conviencing boy, who shows all the characteristics of an authentic person. He is smart, yet stupid at times,also cruel, yet caring at times. The character of Tom comes to a maturation which shows how he has evolved into a completely realistic person. This story could have been both intended for adults as well as children, but in the end it can be beneficial to both.