Without manipulation, there wouldn't really be many adventures of Tom Sawyer to speak of. If Tom couldn't coerce his friends into joining him on kooky adventures, they would never have happened. And if Injun Joe weren't so cunning, well, he wouldn't be much of a villain. By allowing these two manipulators to co-exist, Twain muddies the waters a bit. It's a lot of fun watching Tom dupe unsuspecting fools, but as a result we have to ask ourselves: are we being duped? Tom may always be the good guy, but he's not the "model boy," and his motives aren't always clear. (To learn more about the similarities and differences between Tom and Injun Joe's trickery, check out "Character Roles.")
Tom's schemes – though occasionally mean-spirited – are just boyish manifestations of what might be called a uniquely American kind of ingenuity.
Through Tom, we get to live out one of man's basic fantasies: we get to watch David beat Goliath.