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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

by Mark Twain

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Is Tom Sawyer a good person?

Quick answer:

Yes, Tom Sawyer is a good person, though his youth and need for adventure sometimes lead him to make poor judgements.

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Tom Sawyer is a mischievous boy who seems to have a knack for finding trouble. He gets into a fight, sneaks around in graveyards, hides the truth of a murder for a period of time, and tricks his classmates on more than one occasion.

Yet Tom's lack of judgement doesn't make him a bad person. In fact, he demonstrates a tremendous moral conscience that fairly transforms his character by the end of the novel. After witnessing a murder, Tom initially remains quiet about the truth but is plagued by a conscience that constantly begs him to take action:

Every reference to the murder sent a shudder to his heart, for his troubled conscience and fears almost persuaded him that these remarks were put forth in his hearing as "feelers."

He decides that he must protect Muff Potter, first by bringing him supplies in jail and then by telling the truth in court. He finds the courage to face Injun Joe and ends up discovering his gold. Because of his changed perspective, he even convinces his friend Huck Finn to live a more civilized life as well, pointing out the benefits of family and stability that Huck will gain by living with the Widow:

Huck, we can't let you into the gang if you ain't respectable, you know.

Tom has an insatiable thirst for adventure and is sometimes unable to exercise good judgement when facing a thrilling new opportunity. Yet in the end, even Tom's community labels him as a potential hero.

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