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Themes

Here's the thing: Tom's got so many hopes, plans, and dreams that it's hard to know where to start. He's got all your usual boyish notions about being a robber or a pirate. He, like so many other kids, wants to find buried treasure. Why should we care about his dreams if they're so ordinary? Well, that's the point, really. In The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, we're supposed to identify with Tom and his desires. We're supposed to rejoice when they're met and be disappointed when they're not. And when his dreams they're just plain silly and confused? Well, then we're just supposed to laugh.

Questions About Hopes, Plans, and Dreams

  1. What is it about piracy and robbery that get Tom going so much?
  2. Tom desires both silly, small things (a "sure-'nough sword") and something big (marriage) that he definitely doesn't understand. Is he in some kind of transitional period – on the cusp of figuring things out – or is he just plain confused?
  3. Huck tells Tom that he "don't give a dern for a thing 'thout it's tollable hard to git" (35.9). Is this true for Tom? Is this true for most of us?
  4. In the end, Tom and Huck have one of their biggest wishes fulfilled: they find the treasure. But does the money really matter? How would things change if they found the treasure chest empty?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is, in a way, a testament to the power of the imagination; by the end of the novel, Tom has gotten exactly what he has always dreamed of having.

Although Tom is the one with the big dreams, it is Huck that ultimately comes to understand the necessity of desire.

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