Illustration of a hand holding a paintbrush that is painting a fence white

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

by Mark Twain

Start Free Trial

What is the conflict in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer? For example, is it man versus man, man versus society, or man versus the supernatural?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

As with most stories, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer has multiple conflicts. Man versus man is definitely one of the conflict types that exists in this great book; however, Tom is in conflict with various people in the book. I would say that the conflict with a standard "bad guy" archetype occurs between Tom and Injun Joe. Tom is in man versus man conflict with Becky and Aunt Polly at various times in the novel as well. His conflicts with Aunt Polly are some of my favorites because of how she is always punishing him for his various acts of mischief.

A man versus nature conflict occurs when Tom is trapped in the caves and when the storm hits Jackson Island. Finally, man versus self is an important conflict type that exists in this book as well. Tom is constantly in a struggle to do what he wants to do instead of what he knows is the right thing to do. We see this conflict in a major way when Tom struggles with whether or not to report the truth about Dr. Robinson's murder.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The primary conflict in the novel is the individual versus society, which is played out in Tom's childish rebellions against Aunt Polly, school, and local approval. The novel tells the story of Tom's efforts to live out his individual dreams and preferences regardless of what Aunt Polly and the rest of polite society have to say about it.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial