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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

by Mark Twain

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Character Role Analysis

Tom Sawyer and Injun Joe

Yeah, that's right. We went there. In the "Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory" section we mention how a lot of what Injun Joe does, however awful it might be, sounds awful familiar to some of the stuff Tom dreams about doing. Tom wants to be a robber? Well, Injun Joe is one, and he's got the loot to prove it. Tom wants to have a cool hideout? Injun Joe's got that too. Both characters disdain authority, and have a way of making things go their way. We're not saying that framing someone for murder and getting someone to do your chores for you are equivalent actions, but they do demonstrate a similar tendency for manipulation.

In practice, Tom's actions often represent the mirror image of Injun Joe's: Injun Joe frames Muff Potter, Tom proves him innocent; Injun Joe gets locked in the cave and dies, Tom escapes from the cave and lives. When Tom and Huck finally stumble upon Injun Joe's storage room/living quarters in the cave, Tom decides to leave everything as is – so that he and the Tom Sawyer Gang can take up residence there. Tom and Injun Joe are constantly brought into contact because they are, on some level, drawn to the same things: they want treasure and they want attention. Lucky for Tom, his thirst for such things is only a childish fantasy; Injun Joe's is an all-consuming, and ultimately destructive impulse.


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