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What is a character sketch of Tom Sawyer?

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sirtaj | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 14, 2010 at 8:32 AM via web

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What is a character sketch of Tom Sawyer?

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mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted August 15, 2010 at 2:53 AM (Answer #1)

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Tom Sawyer, the hero of Mark Twain's book The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, is a precocious child with a penchant for finding a way to get out of work.  He is very clever which he demonstrates by finding a way for the boys to white wash the wood fence when he is supposed to be doing the task. 

Tom is a rascal that has a wild imagination which often gets him into trouble.  Yet, his humor and wit enable him to find his way out of odd situations.  He is also enamoured with Becky Thatcher who he woos.  Tom does not play by the same rules as those around him.  He is best friend to Huck Finn whom he runs off with to become a pirate.

Tom is also a kind person who may play tricks but looks after those he loves.  However, he does not recognize the seriousness of his own actions.  For example, when everyone believes he is dead, he uses this to his advantage.

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 28, 2007 at 8:49 PM (Answer #1)

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Tom is a character of unflagging energy and a real zeal for trickery. He can con and schmoze his way out of any situation. When the novel begins, Tom is a mischievous child who envies Huck Finn’s lazy lifestyle and freedom. As Tom’s adventures proceed, however, critical moments show Tom moving away from his childhood concerns and making mature, responsible decisions. These moments include Tom’s testimony at Muff Potter’s trial, his saving of Becky from punishment, and his heroic navigation out of the cave. By the end of the novel, Tom is coaxing Huck into staying at the Widow Douglas’s, urging his friend to accept tight collars, Sunday school, and good table manners. He is no longer a disobedient character undermining the adult order, but a defender of respectability and responsibility. In the end, growing up for Tom means embracing social custom and sacrificing the freedoms of childhood.
Yet Tom’s development isn’t totally coherent. The novel jumps back and forth among several narrative strands: Tom’s general misbehavior, which climaxes in the Jackson’s Island adventure; his courtship of Becky, which culminates in his acceptance of blame for the book that she rips; and his struggle with Injun Joe, which ends with Tom and Huck’s discovery of the treasure. Because of the picaresque, or episodic, nature of the plot, Tom’s character can seem inconsistent, as it varies depending upon his situation. Tom is a paradoxical figure in some respects—for example, he has no determinate age. Sometimes Tom shows the naïveté of a smaller child, with his interest in make-believe and superstitions. On the other hand, Tom’s romantic interest in Becky and his fascination with Huck’s smoking and drinking seem more the concerns of an adolescent.

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renelane | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted November 30, 2007 at 9:46 PM (Answer #1)

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Tom is lovable and infuriating a t the same time. He is a typical little boy who loves adventure, but hates church, school, and chores.

His imagination often gets him into trouble because he follows his impulses. He created a huge debacle in church when the pinch-bug he was playing with wreaked havoc on the sermon. Some of his adventures being the time he ran away to play pirates on the sandbar of the Mississippi River and hanging out in the cemetery with Huck at midnight.

Tom has a huge crush on Becky and will get into trouble just so he can sit by her.Tom is not adept at formal education, yet he is by no means stupid. He bends rules but understands the difference between right and wrong when it counts. This is evident in how he helps Becky when she is in trouble with the schoolmaster.

Tom is a memorable character whose mischievous tendencies do not detract from his likability.

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missbc | (Level 1) Honors

Posted August 16, 2010 at 3:09 AM (Answer #2)

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Tom is of course the main character in the novel. He is about twelve years old and has a half-brother, whose name is Sid. He lives with his aunt Polly.

He is full of mischief and he has a very lively imagination. He often leads himself into trouble (often with his friends). He is smart and playful.

But in spite of this he is a good boy, his heart is in the right place and he does know what's wrong or right.

In the course of the novel his character develops: he becomes more responsible, thinks about his actions and tries to do what is right instead of what is simply fun.

 

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