The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Language and Communication Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
He picked up a clean pine shingle that lay in the moonlight, took a little fragment of "red keel" out of his pocket, got the moon on his work, and painfully scrawled these lines, emphasizing each slow down-stroke by clamping his tongue between his teeth, and letting up the pressure on the up-strokes.
Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer swears they will keep mum about This and They wish They may Drop down dead in Their Tracks if They ever Tell and Rot.
Huckleberry was filled with admiration of Tom's facility in writing, and the sublimity of his language. (10.25-7)
Here, Tom demonstrates his mastery of another form of language, this time written: the over-serious oath. The punctuation, replete with unnecessary capital letters, is perfectly suited to the occasion.
"Close upon the hour of noon the whole village was suddenly electrified with the ghastly news. No need of the as yet undreamed-of telegraph; the tale flew from man to man, from group to group, from house to house, with little less than telegraphic speed." (11.1)
Twain illustrates the speed with which small-town gossip gets around with a droll analogy.
"Yes, and they take loaves of bread and put quicksilver in 'em and set 'em afloat, and wherever there's anybody that's drownded, they'll float right there and stop."
"Yes, I've heard about that," said Joe. "I wonder what makes the bread do that."
"Oh, it ain't the bread, so much," said Tom; "I reckon it's mostly what they say over it before they start it out." (14.16-8)
However silly their superstitions may be, the boys do understand the sometimes magical power of words.