What is the conflict and resolution of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer?

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parkerlee eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Consider the three levels of conflict and then identify the correlating conflicts in the novel's story line:

man vs man: 1) Huck's introduction and his lack of "belongingness" in the local community; 2) Tom's inability also to conform to the expectations of adults; 3) The boys' witness of Dr. Robinson's murder and their fear to tell (considering Injun Joe's eventual reprisal); 4) Huck's refusal to be adopted by the Widow Douglas since he prefers his freedom. 5) The inevitable separation of best friends through circumstances although their friendship remains intact.

man vs nature: Tom and Becky getting lost in the cave while looking for treasure. 

man vs himself: 1) The boys' guilty conscience for not having defended Muff, falsely accused of the doctor's murder;  2) Tom's feelings for Becky and adolescent "growing pains"; 3) Tom's relinquishment of childhood dreams. Deep down he knows he will never enjoy buccaneering days with Huck although he maintains this illusion.

Other conflicts may be found, but these are the primary ones.

The story line is very tightly woven so that the resolution of one conflict leads to that of others. Tom and Huck confront Injun Joe, tell the truth, and justice is finally rendered. (Huck even gets some of the reward money and thus gains a little more personal independence; then Tom and he go their separate ways.)

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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

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