Themes and Characters

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Last Updated on May 8, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 492

As characters, Harris and Me are modern-day versions of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. As Tom Sawyer does, Harris audaciously seizes any opportunity for mischief and adventure. His imaginative and inventive nature often produces both positive and negative consequences. He is naughty but not bad; the motives behind his antics are, like many adolescents', driven by his desire and determination to have a more adventurous life than his busy, boring parents.

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Similarly, readers will see the parallels between Huckleberry Finn and Me. The narrator approaches life skeptically after being passed among relatives because of his parents' drinking. Despite his knowledge that Harris's schemes spell trouble, Me abandons caution because the promised adventure is too exciting. He is usually content to follow the younger child's lead, but eventually he gains confidence and creates some memorable excitement of his own.

Ironically, the pair's escapades are virtually unnoticed by the preoccupied Larsons. Paulsen supplies only sketches of the secondary characters, who provide background color to the author's portrait of farm life. Harris's parents, Knute and Clair, are a stereotypical farm couple; Knute, as silent as a monk, is engrossed in planning, plowing, and planting, while Clair orchestrates five performances a day in the farm's nonstop kitchen. Consequently, much of Harris's upbringing is left to his fourteen-year-old sister, Glennis, a mother-in-training with a right hand to be feared. Paulsen completes the farm family tableau with an uncouth hired hand, Louie. His feeding- frenzy manner at the table is balanced, however, by an artistic flair that ultimately gives Me tangible evidence of his place in the Larson family.

Like other Paulsen novels, Harris and Me includes animal characters with human like personalities. Vivian, the cantankerous cow, dislikes everyone and kicks anyone who gets close to her. The barnyard bully is Ernie the menacing rooster, whose surprise attacks on children occur when...

(The entire section contains 492 words.)

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