| Quote #1
Now as to this girl. What had he done? Nothing. He had meant the best in the world, and been treated like a dog -- like a very dog. She would be sorry some day -- maybe when it was too late. Ah, if he could only die temporarily! (8.1)
Though Tom generally sticks to the usual fantasies – pirates, robbers – he occasionally has stranger, more serious thoughts. In this case, he articulates a dream that most human beings have had, albeit it in a childish way.
| Quote #2
What if he turned his back, now, and disappeared mysteriously? What if he went away -- ever so far away, into unknown countries beyond the seas -- and never came back any more! How would she feel then! […] No, he would be a soldier, and return after long years, all war-worn and illustrious. No -- better still, he would join the Indians, and hunt buffaloes and go on the warpath […] and away in the future come back a great chief, bristling with feathers, hideous with paint, and prance into Sunday-school, some drowsy summer morning, with a blood-curdling war-whoop, and sear the eyeballs of all his companions with unappeasable envy. But no, there was something gaudier even than this. He would be a pirate! That was it! (8.5)
Though Tom's ideas are pretty standard-issue schoolboy stuff, the speed with which he cycles through them suggests he has a very active imagination.
| Quote #3
The boys dressed themselves, hid their accoutrements, and went off grieving that there were no outlaws any more, and wondering what modern civilization could claim to have done to compensate for their loss. They said they would rather be outlaws a year in Sherwood Forest than President of the United States forever. (8.35)
Twain perfectly captures the tone and form of a child's wish. The "I'd rather be X for a year than Y forever" is classic.