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What is the main conflict of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer?

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cassiea | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 31, 2007 at 10:03 PM via web

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What is the main conflict of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer?

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 1, 2007 at 12:52 AM (Answer #1)

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The main conflict is the clash between Tom's imaginative vision of the world and the adult world as it really is.

Tom's elaborate, creative adventures (pirates, treasure hunters, robbers) and pranks (tricking the boys into paying him to paint the fence, bartering for proof of memorized Bible verses) place him at constant odds with the adult world, and he is not above lying audaciously to get out of trouble either.  The fact that Tom does have a conscience and a good heart only adds to the conflict he experiences.  On the one hand, Tom wishes he could be like Huck, who lives without rules because he is on his own, yet at the same time Tom realizes that it is a sad thing that Huck has no one to love him.  Although Tom's exploits get him into a lot of trouble, when it really counts (worrying Aunt Polly by disappearing on his pirate adventure, letting the wrong man take the blame for Dr. Robinson's murder), Tom chooses to do what he knows is right. 

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