What is the theme or main idea of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain?
The main theme of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is the joys of childhood when the world is full of wonders and children are free of the heavy responsibilities of adulthood. Mark Twain was writing about his own boyhood, growing up in the small town of Hannibal, Missouri, right on the edge of the great Mississippi River. Tom is a town boy. If he lived on a subsistence farm like the majority of Americans in those times, he would not have the freedom he enjoys in this novel. Farm boys were put to work at an early age, and much of their work consisted of plowing behind a horse or mule. They were often called "plow-boys." American literature was full of stories and poetry about boyhood. A good example is "The Barefoot Boy" by the eminent poet John Greenleaf Whittier, which begins:
Blessings on thee, little man,
Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan!
From my heart I give thee joy,—
I was once a barefoot boy!
Thou little Child, yet glorious in the might
Of heaven-born freedom on thy being's height,
Why with such earnest pains dost thou provoke
The years to bring the inevitable yoke,
Thus blindly with thy blessedness at strife?
Full soon thy Soul shall have her earthly freight,
And custom lie upon thee with a weight
Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life!
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