Take a story's temperature by studying its tone. Is it hopeful? Cynical? Snarky? Playful?
Although The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is by no means an autobiography, Twain is most definitely writing from life experience. He sounds like…well, a fifty year-old man looking back at his childhood, and forming a narrative out of his memories. Memories of his youth in Missouri, of childish behavior and juvenile fantasies; these are Twain's raw materials. In retrospect, Twain can coax the humor out of adolescent foibles, and his insights into the strange and sometimes contradictory psychology of Tom and his compatriots contributes both to the truth of his depictions and their humor.