My spouse and I continue to enjoy our adult education course on Mark Twain. This week we read “Tom Sawyer.” This is about my fourth time to read the book and I learn something every time. This is the story of a boy growing up in a small town in Missouri located on the Mississippi River. Much of it, I’m sure, is autobiographical. This boy is a good friend of Huck Finn’s and is a mischievous character. Mark Twain takes the reader into the mind of a young boy who has a great imagination and a desire for great adventure. Unlike the structured world of today’s youth, Tom Sawyer has the time to pursue the dreams of his imaginary world. He wants to be a pirate or a robber and is able to play out these games with his friends.
The simplest things can make Tom happy. He can get a thrill out of tormenting a tick or a beetle or just observing a fly. He is a master of conning his friends into things like whitewashing a fence. He explores ways to remove a wart like burying a bean with the blood from the wart or taking a dead cat into the cemetery at night to throw at the devil who has come for the spirit of an evil person. He falls in love with Becky Thatcher but most of all loves his adventures as a carefree youth. Tom is not as carefree as Huck Finn but they make a fine pair and the best that can be found in any book.
Tom is bored with the adult world and especially things like church. It’s in church that he carefully studies the act of a fly preening itself or the effort of a beetle to right itself from being on it’s back. School is also a bore and Tom uses every trick in the book to skip the misery of the classroom and the very harsh teachers of the time. Tom preferred fishing and swimming to his books. I suspect that Mark Twain was much like Tom Sawyer. He was an autodidact or a person who was self taught. School is for people who do not have the great genius and talent of Mark Twain.
Tom Sawyer was a great believer in witches, devils, spells, remedies and other things superstitious. Some of his favorite things were; Robin Hood, pirates, robbers, haunted houses, and buried treasures.
I guess one of the things I like most about Mark Twain is that I have a secret desire to be a Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn. I can sure identify with these great characters and they are some of my regular visitors on the porch in my world of imagination.