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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Youth

Ah, youth! A time for fun and games and puppy love. Well, sort of. Over the years, Tom Sawyer has become shorthand for a mischievous, carefree boy. And he is, for the most part. That said, you can'...

Hopes, Plans, and Dreams

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 k...

Visions of America

Tom Sawyer's America is, more than anything else, small. All he really knows is St. Petersburg, Missouri. And for him, for Twain and for us, that's fine. In The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, America is...

Manipulation

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. An...

The Supernatural

In The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, superstition may be a bunch of bunk, but it's also a mode of communication and a tool for understanding the scary, spooky, confusing world. Tom and Huck believe a l...

Language and Communication

In The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, you aren't going to hear Tom and Huck discussing the finer points of the subjunctive, or even talking about the earthshaking power of literature. No, much of the po...

Race

Issues of race in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer center on the novel's half-Native American villain, Injun Joe. Injun Joe is subject to the usual stereotypes about Native Americans – but, and h...

Religion

Tom Sawyer isn't such a fan of Sunday school, and it's easy to see that Mark Twain sympathizes with the boy. Religion in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer isn't exactly appealing. We see it in the form...
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