Has Tom Sawyer changed at the end of the story?

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Tom Sawyer remains consistent in numerous ways, as Mark Twain does a masterful job of creating a character who is believable because he has the kinds of flaws that many children have. Some of them are personality traits, such as his enjoyment he gets out of provoking reactions; others are...

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Tom Sawyer remains consistent in numerous ways, as Mark Twain does a masterful job of creating a character who is believable because he has the kinds of flaws that many children have. Some of them are personality traits, such as his enjoyment he gets out of provoking reactions; others are more associated with his age, such as impulsiveness and failure to respect other people’s feelings. Although Tom remains young in the novel, his behavior changes in regard to his consideration for others and his ability to project the impact of his actions.

One good example relates to the pirating adventure and the misunderstanding about his and Huck’s deaths. By returning to view his own funeral, he realizes how deeply his aunt loves him and how much more difficult he has been making her life. He also encourages others to include Huck because his people are not there to welcome him back to life. Whether Tom will be able to control his behavior in the short run remains an open question, but the reader suspects he will treat people more kindly in the future. Regarding his knowledge of the murder as well, Tom realizes he must step up and tell the truth because Potter might pay with his life. As Tom confronts these issues of mortality, he gains a more mature perspective on life.

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Tom Sawyer is often described as a static character. While he is indeed complex, Tom does not really experience any growth or change by the end of the novel.

After the discovery of Injun Joe’s body in the cave, Tom wastes little time concocting a plan to find the gold he believes is somewhere hidden in the cave. Part of this plan involves Huck, his mischievous pal, and a future band of robbers that the boys want to begin in the cave.

Tom’s love for adventure, putting himself in potentially dangerous situations, and making up arbitrary rules (like that Huck must be “respectable” to join Tom’s band of robbers) are all present at both the beginning and end of the text.

In his conclusion after the novel’s plot ends, Twain explicitly states that he wants this text to be about a boy, and that the story must end where it does it in order to preserve Tom’s childhood. Rather than being a typical Bildungsroman story, Tom Sawyer’s trajectory remains relatively the same.

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