Monday, May 30, 2011

"The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" by Mark Twain

Published: 1876
Read: 2011
Genre: Fiction
Setting: Small town along Mississippi River in mid 1800's
Rating: 4
Review: Goodreads

While preparing to travel on business last week, I was faced with a dilemma.  Which book should I bring to read next?  Still undecided after perusing the many books on my TBR shelves, I decided to bring my Nook onto which many classics had been recently downloaded.  So while waiting to board the plane, I thought I'd choose my next book by opening up various books, reading the first two paragraphs and if hooked, I'd continue.  Three days later, I finished both The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, surprised at how much I enjoyed reading about these two boys.

Tom Sawyer is "all boy".  He doesn't like school, questions rules, and is not interested in church.  He is mischievous, "cheeky" and a prankster, immortalized in the scene when he marched into his own funeral.  Always looking for adventures, he ropes his friends into pretending to be Robin Hood and his band of thieves, pirates or robbers.

Twain's well written book is a "coming of age" story where Tom wrestles with his feelings for a girl, Becky Thatcher.  His thoughts and antics, fueled by infatuation, are innocent, immature, sweet and funny.   He also struggles with his conscious, having witnessed a murder in which an innocent person was framed by the murderer and will hang.  Will Tom risk his own life, do the right thing and name the guilty person, and thereby uphold justice?

Among his many other adventures occurring in a short timeframe, he inadvertently becomes a hero by saving himself and Becky when they had gotten lost in the caves.  Hopes of their rescue had dwindled and yet due to his resourcefulness and general optimism, he found a way out.  And if this were not enough, at the end of the story, both he and Huck find buried treasure!

A highly recommended book if you've never read it (in my case) or if the last time you read it was for school.

Interesting quotes and why:

After Tom tricks his friends into whitewashing Aunt Polly's fence for him and giving him treasures to do so:
He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it - namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain....that Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.
When Tom saw Becky for the first time:
As he was passing by the house where Jeff Thatcher lived, he saw a new girl in the garden - a lovely little blue-eyed creature with yellow hair plaited into two long tails, white summer frock and embroidered pantalettes.  The fresh-crowned hero fell without firing a shot.  A certain Amy Lawrence vanished out of his heart and left not even a memory of herself behind.
His view of death on a day when his "soul was steeped in melancholy":
It seemed to him that life was but a trouble, at best, and he more than half envied Jimmy Hodges, so lately released; it must be very peaceful, he thought, to lie and slumber and dream forever and ever, with the wind whispering through the trees and caressing the grass and the flowers over the grave, and nothing to bother and grieve about, ever any more.  If he only had a clean Sunday-school record he could be willing to go, and be done with it all.
Note in my journal:  A kid's view of death - very romantic.  Envies the dead - their peace, sleeping and dreaming forever.  No bother, no troubles, nothing to grieve (interesting word choice) about.  What about the grieving of those left behind?

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