Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain, is a fascinating tale about a young boy named Tom Sawyer growing up in South during the late 1800s. A mischievous and adventurous boy, Tom spends much of his spare time causing trouble to others, whether he means to or not. He is often found playing about town, using his wild imagination to create an exciting world for himself, or taking a few friends along for an adventure in the wild. Throughout the book, Tom’s vivid imagination shows itself countless times, often leading to superstition, and the young boy is always looking to have a good time, even if it means lying.
One of Tom’s most apparent traits is his imagination. Perhaps his most wild stunt was when he decided to become a ‘pirate,’ inviting a few of his friends with him. Together they went off to Jackson’s Island near their town, living the imaginary adventure for a week, despite the emotional torment they caused to their families at home. Most of the time however, Tom’s imagination leads him to much less harmful adventures. Tom and his friends play many games such as Robin Hood, running all about the forest pretending to be the band of merry men, robbing the rich.
They take turns being the famed hero and Guy of Gisborne. Other times the boys pretend to be wicked outlaws, or fearless indians. The boys memorize words from books, and recite them throughout their games. Cleary, Tom has a knack for entertaining himself as well as others, with the use of his vivid imagination. Although his imagination leads to entertainment for himself and his friends, Tom’s creativity also leads to superstition at times. When Tom is speaking to Huck about the different ways warts can be cured, Huck talks about using a dead cat.
Tom responds with the benefits of using ‘Spunk Water,’ which is the water that collects after a storm. Later, Tom loses a marble, and attempts to find it using another marble based on a superstitious method he had heard of. He tries to cast a spell on the marble, encouraging it to find its “brother. ” It is also apparent that Tom believes in witches, blaming anything bad that happens to him on them. He tells Huck about how one attempted to bewitch a man in the town, before he stopped her efforts by throwing a rock at her. Finally, Tom also believes in ghosts, which is shown when he and Huck are in the graveyard.
Tom becomes so frightened that he convinces himself that they will be killed by angry spirits unless they flee, claiming that they had disturbed the spirit’s rest and had filled the ghosts with wrath. Obviously Tom has a sincere belief in superstition. Although Tom can be imaginative and superstitious, he is also deceitful, especially when he can get something out of it. At Sunday School, the young children memorize bible verses, and are later given colored tickets depending on how many verses were memorized. If enough tickets are given the child would be given a bible.
Tom, instead of working hard to memorize the verses, traded items with the other children until he had gained enough tickets for a bible. To the shock of the school, Tom then asks for a bible and receives it, although he had done absolutely no work for it. Another example is when Aunt Polly wakes Tom up for school, and he decides that he does not want to go. Desperate to get his way, he pretends he is sick so he will not have to go. He manages to fool his family for a time, but Aunt Polly is soon able to see through the lie and she makes him go to school anyway. Clearly, Tom is fond of using lies to get his way.
Throughout the story, Tom shows himself to have an incredibly creative mind, one that keeps both himself and his friends amused no matter what. He is very superstitious, believing in magical cures and beings that do not actually exist, likely a factor of having such an imagination. His deceitful tendencies are apparent on many different occasions, whether it be to obtain something or avoid something, it is almost always something that is beneficial to himself. Although Tom seems to care mostly about himself, as the story progresses Tom begins to undergo a change.
Witnessing the murder committed in the graveyard by Injun Joe, his first instinct is to protect himself, fearful of Injun Joe’s wrath and the possibility of being murdered himself. Later, when Muff Potter is accused of the crime, Tom decides to do the right thing despite the danger to himself. He tells the Public Defender, the whole town, and even Injun Joe himself the truth, showing a new maturity within him that did not exist before. In choosing to do the right thing, Tom shows that he has outgrown his childish selfishness, sparking growth from a child into a young man.