How does wealth foster acceptance in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer?  

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Perhaps, the best example of how wealth fosters social acceptance in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is in the development of the character of Huck Finn in the narrative. Whereas Huck has remained on the fringes of society in the small town of St. Petersburg, Missouri, once he acquires wealth, he is then assimilated into society, proving that money is a primary factor in social acceptance.

In Chapter 35 of Twain's novel, after Tom and Huck's "windfall," they are transformed in the eyes of the townspeople. Huck, who heretofore was virtually a social pariah is now

...courted admired, stared at....now their [he and Tom's] sayings were treasured and repeated; everything they did seemed somehow to be regarded as remarkable; they had evidently lost the power of doing and saying commonplace things....

 Another irony attached to Tom and Huck's elevation in society once they have discovered the treasure is the fact that they have performed actions that they should not have been doing that enabled them to make this discovery, but because the end result is acquisition of wealth, their misdeeds are absolved by the citizenry, and they miraculously receive social acceptance.

Further, with Twain's satire describing Huck as being "dragged" and "hurled" into polite society, the boy now must remain clean and neat, he has to eat with a knife and fork, use a napkin and go to church and have schooling. Despite the fact that "[H]e bravely bore his miseries," after two days, Huck runs off.

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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

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