At the beginning of the story, the author paints Tom as a cocky yet likable boy whom his aunt has to constantly discipline to keep in check. He steals jam, skips school, and gets into fights. Even when his aunt forces him to spend his Saturday whitewashing a fence, he manages to use his considerable charm to persuade his friends to do the job for him.
However, he tempers this mischievousness with acts of kindness and a genuine love for the underdog. For example, he is one of the few children that dares to befriend the homeless Huckleberry Finn. In fact, his teacher whips Tom when he sees him talking to Huck outside the school. Tom is nothing if not his own person, however, and he continues to see Huck and to go on nightly adventures with him.
We are never in doubt that Tom is a boy of great potential. The problem is that he seems to find it difficult to focus that potential on something worthwhile. Perhaps it's because he struggles with the boredom of small-town life or the confines of a...
(The entire section contains 4 answers and 980 words.)