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The first part of the novel shows Tom increasingly rebellious and outrageous, but after the return from the 'drown', Tom behaves more conventionally. He us ultimately honoured and accepted by his community. Hypocrisy probably takes place because there is lack of entertainment if St Peterburg
Below Tom Sawyer's sunny surface lurk hints of a darker reality, of youthful innocence and naÃ¯veté confronting the cruelty, hypocrisy, and foolishness of the adult world-a theme that would become more pronounced in Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Despite such suggestions, Tom Sawyer remains Twain's joyful ode to the endless possibilities of childhood.
Tom is a mischievous boy who spends most of the novel getting himself and others into and out of trouble. At the beginning of the novel, he idolizes Huck as the personification of freedom and independence, but at the end, he persuades Huck to give up his freedom for a life of constraint and civilization with the Widow Douglas. Thus Tom becomes a spokesman for conformity, though this is tempered by his determination to set up a robbers' gang, which will provide an outlet for his romantic and creative nature.
Tom is throughout a leader in the games and adventures in which he and his friends are involved. He has a romantic imagination and absorbs tales of pirates and heroes like Robin Hood so thoroughly that he is able to memorize dialog and plots and recreate them in games with other children. He is like a theatre director in that he has the ability to construct a scenario and determine what each character in his 'plot' will do. He is also able to predict his audience's reaction. An example is his stay on the island with Joe Harper and Huck. He succeeds (with a slight struggle) in keeping the homesick boys on the island for long enough for them to create a grand theatrical entrance at their own funeral - and is welcomed home as a hero. To Tom, adulation is "food and drink" and is the most important part of any adventure.
Tom's leadership ability and theatrical skill are in part due to his psychological insight, which often surpasses that of adults. For example, he is able to get other children to do his whitewashing for him by making the job seem like a rare privilege.
Tom is notably superstitious and has a seemingly limitless stock of old beliefs which he brings out at any occasion. If the superstition does not bear out in reality, he always has a ready excuse, such as claiming that a witch interfered or that a vital part of a charm was omitted.
Early in the novel, Tom gives little thought as to the consequences of his actions and is often reprimanded by Aunt Polly for his thoughtlessness and selfishness. He is fundamentally good-hearted, however. As the novel progresses, he undergoes a moral growth and begins to consider others more and to try to do what is right, rather than simply what is fun. A turning point comes with his realization of the suffering he has caused Aunt Polly by his disappearance to the island. After the scene when he reassures Aunt Polly that he does care about her and she forgives him, he is so buoyed up that he nobly takes on the whipping due to Becky in school. Later, he cannot live with his bad conscience over Muff Potter's being punished for a murder he did not do, and testifies in court, risking Injun Joe's revenge.
Themes and Characters
Tom Sawyer is a trickster figure who challenges the rules of conventional society. He and his younger half-brother Sid are wards of their highly conventional Aunt Polly, and Tom engages in a variety of ruses to escape from the impositions of adult society, particularly work and school. Although Sid cleverly sees through Tom's antics, his aunt is more easily fooled. Secretly indulgent of Tom's faults, she nonetheless punishes him dutifully when she discovers his deceptions.
Tom lives in a world defined by the customs and values of boys. He defends his territory, testing newcomers in fights, and participates in ritual exchanges of valueless, even repugnant, goods such as the dead cat he acquires from Huck. Bored by the solemnity of church, he disrupts the service with a pinchbug and trades to get tickets meant to be earned by memorizing Scripture. Subject to childhood romance, he falls in love with Becky Thatcher, a judge's daughter. His attempts to gain her approval, along with his general desire to be the center of attention, inspire him to show off unabashedly. Ultimately, however, he assumes a hero's role, first taking the blame when Becky accidentally damages the schoolmaster's anatomy book, then rescuing her from the cave.
Huckleberry Finn appears in this book as a secondary character. Like Tom, Huck has lost a parent; unlike Tom, he lives a homeless life, sleeping at an old slaughterhouse. Further removed from social convention, Huck shares Tom's enjoyment of pranks and sharp dealing while lacking Tom's regard for respectability. At the end of the novel Tom demands that Huck accept "civilization" in order to remain a member of his gang, which he governs according to rules he interprets from adventure books.
The boys' world is haunted by superstition and governed by biblical injunctions. When they visit the graveyard they fear ghosts and devils, but they encounter Injun Joe, Muff Potter, and Dr. Robinson robbing a grave. Joe plays the role of a melodramatic villain, killing the doctor and blaming the murder on the alcoholic Muff. Although ignorant enough of conventional Christian history to identify the first disciples as "David and Goliath," Tom and Huck are so conditioned by conventional morality that they expect Joe to be struck down by lightning for his lie. When he is not, the boys assume he has sold himself to the devil. Indeed, he is a demonic character seeking revenge against ordered society.
Tom and Huck run away with another boy, Joe Harper, to escape from the murder they have witnessed. They live in freedom on Jackson's Island, enjoying boyish adventures until conscience intrudes. Their imaginations governed both by books and standard morality, they want to be pirates without violating the biblical injunction against theft, and Tom feels guilty about the innocent Muff Potter's arrest. Presumed dead, the boys enjoy the center of the town's attention when they return for their own funeral. This return suggests a pattern of death and resurrection, retreat from society and reunion. Tom's return marks a greater sense of responsibility when, racked by conscience, he reveals what he knows of the murder.
Adventure now becomes a reality for the boys as they discover that Joe has hidden a fortune and is plotting revenge against the Widow Douglas. The treasure hunt and Tom's romance with Becky merge in a maze-like cave where Tom and Becky get lost and find Injun Joe hiding out with his stolen money. While Joe dies in the cave, sealed in by unwitting townspeople, Tom and Becky emerge to community recognition, and Tom and Huck share in the treasure retrieved from the cave.
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.