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Mark Twain's has used his title character Tom Sawyer to highlight the hypocrisy residing in human nature, particularly in the adults within the rural area of St, Petersburg, in his novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Tom Sawyer's actions in the novel are a series of entertainments and the reader comes to understand through these series of entertainments that they are also a cycle of exposures which reveal the absurdity and hypocrisy of his world. Tom spends most of the novel as an adventurous rebellion but is through him and the help of the characters residing in St, Petersburg that Mark Twain has unmasked the veil of deceitfulness in the people of Tom Sawyer's community - because although Twain has exposed the crude reality of adult life in the text by literary devices like mockery, dramatic monologue and satire, ultimately it is through Tom Sawyer's actions, both in his childhood and his maturation through the book, that social irrationality and hypocrisy are brought to their true colours. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is perhaps an excellent read to overtly discover and help one learn about the judgments and beliefs of the people of the time; it is not a book written in contemporary times about an earlier period in history. The author has lived through these times and so wrote about what he knew to be true of people and their behaviour. Throughout the book Tom Sawyer is presented almost as a con-artist, like a trickster figure who goes against the system of conventional society. He and his younger half-brother Sid live and abide by the rules of their highly conservative Aunt Polly, and Tom gets involved in a variety of dilemmas to break away from the impositions of adult society, particularly work and school. For example, in chapter six, Tom does everything he can to stay home from school. He pretends that his sore toe hurts so much that he's going to die - and he pretends so hard that he actually begins to believe his own lies and tells Sid that he should give his 'cat with one eye to that new girl that's come to town'  . This is merely an example of receiving an insight into the character of Tom Sawyer, and it is through these kinds of similar actions from Tom that expose the hypocrisy of his world. For example, on chapter 18, Twain portrays the hypocritical inclination of civilization to value and praise simply when it has lost them. The residents of St Petersburg come to believe that Joe Harper, Tom, and Huck have drowned, and suddenly, all those who criticised and disapproved of them prior are praising them and that is when Tom Sawyer 'became a pirate who felt that the public eye was on him, and indeed it was'  ; here is a boy who goes against all the conventional values and norms set by his society and all of a sudden he is eulogized simply because of his absence. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is above the level than just a boy's adventures growing up in a small town along the Mississippi River; and this is the kind nature this essay will be focusing on to a get more detailed discussion on the existing topic of the confliction between adult behaviours in the novel.
Tom Sawyer is a character who indulges in mischievous acts and comes across as a playful boy who, throughout most of the novel, spends getting himself into trouble. But that comes as no surprise because he lives in a society characterised by the values and traditions of boys. For example, he analysis newcomers in fights because 'a newcomer of any age or either sex was an impressive curiosity in the poor little village of St Petersburg'  ; and at one particular incident in the book, Tom bumps into this meticulous newcomer and 'this boy was well dressed, well dressed on a weekday' and 'this was simply astounding'  - so Tom felt undermined and inferior because ' the more Tom stared at the splendid marvel, the higher he turned up his nose at his finery, and the shabbier and shabbier his own outfit seemed to him to grow' (page 11) - thus Tom had to satisfy his self-esteem and indulged into a fight with the boy and struck him to the ground into a wrestling match in the dust to make his clothes filthy and bring him down to his level. During the first part of the novel, Tom gets involved in many risky or unexpected undertaking and pranks, merely giving thoughts to the consequences; Tom Sawyer is illustrated as a careless character who tricks people - and although some are smart enough to see through his fraud, others are more easily fooled by his deceptions. For example, the Sunday church has a system for rewarding good pupils: if a student memorizes enough verses and gets enough tickets, they win a Bible in return. And Tom Sawyer deceives not only the kids to give him the tickets but also the Superintendent in making him believe that he had actually memorized two thousand verses: 'it was simply preposterous that this boy had warehoused two thousand sheaves of Scriptural wisdom on his premises'  . This is tested when, after much praise on his intelligence and knowledge, he is asked by Judge Thatcher to tell him 'the names of the first two (out of the twelve disciples) that were appointed'  . Tom, who almost certainly didn't even know how many apostles there were in the first instance, blurts out the first two names that come to his witty mind: 'David and Goliath'. Although Twain ends the scene suddenly, saving Tom from any additional humiliation, we discover that it is these kind of rebellious entertainment from Tom Sawyer that expose the absurdity and hypocrisies of his world such as churchgoers who seem more concerned in the frolics of a bug rather than concentrating on the sermon, or perhaps a society where the teachers whip the children in a desperate attempt to make a rather good performance on the examination day to feet their vanity and get drunk before the event. The next chapter discusses some of Twain's themes of adult hypocrisy in the society of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
Tom Sawyer might seem like a complicated character that constantly getting himself into complex situations, but this might perhaps done on purpose by Mark Twain to help mock and condemn the values and norms of the adult world where Tom will eventually reach.
The book ends happily with a unified society freed of a menace. Huck finds a guardian in the Widow Douglas, whom he has saved from Joe, and Tom gains recognition for genuine heroism