Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain

Delightful reading all over again. It's not a children's story as Twain insists, it's everyone's story. I was so happy to discover the many facets of Tom Sawyer, beyond the painting incident and the tooth extraction event that I studied in school. His friendship with Huck Finn, his love with Becky, his nobleness, his courage and bravery, his ambition and his desire to do the right thing all spring from an innate large hearted soul with a curious and questioning mind. Tom is against the establishment but that does not make him a criminal - nor does it make someone who follows rules the ideal. Because when it comes to standing up when the stakes are against you, when you can be silent and let an innocent man hang, he does - and none can beat Tom Sawyer at that. He stands up and says he was there when the young doctor was murdered in the graveyard by Injun Joe (who was readily sacrificng the drunk Porter) at great danger to his life. He takes Becky's blame on himself and gets badly beaten up by the headmaster. He swims all the way back from the island to let Aunt Polly know he is alive.

He breaks rules. He goes off on midnight jaunts with Huck. He plans to become a pirate and a robber (throw him in jail for thinking like that). He even plans on orgies though he does not know what they mean but he remembers reading about them in some robber book. He takes Becky into a lonely tunnel where they get lost and almost die but where he finds a treasure that makes him the richest man in that town. He takes  Joe and Huck on an escape to an island and everyone thinks they are dead.

But for all that, Tom is right in the head. He is way better than most others who sit at their homes doing the right things and commenting on how wrong everyone else is. Tom questions the establishment, explores his paths and returns a hero. (Today, for doing all that, Tom Sawyer would be in jail for waging war against the country.)

Mark Twain, a man whose history is as interesting as Tom's brings out human nature in all its glory and shows us that what we think we see is not what is. Tom's love story is also beautifully shown and you realise that its a tale of a noble and wonderful person - he was as honest and great in his friendship as in his love.

What a character. Wonderful reading.

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