Study Guide

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Setting

By Mark Twain


St. Petersburg, Missouri, around the mid-1800s

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is set in the town of St. Petersburg, Missouri, some time around the middle of the nineteenth century. St. Petersburg is small, but it's got everything a boy could want: lush forests, a wide river, an island perfect for playing pirates, and caves perfect for getting lost in. It's got your standard issue small-town stuff: a church, a courthouse, a schoolhouse, etc., but it's got a spooky side too, complete with an eerie graveyard, a "Temperance tavern" selling bootleg liquor, and a haunted house.

It's these darker spots that usually get overlooked when people talk about Tom Sawyer – there's a reason why Disneyland has an attraction called "Tom Sawyer's Island" and not a bar called "Tom Sawyer's Not So Temperate Tavern" – but all these settings are in the book for a reason.