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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

by Mark Twain

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Student Question

In Tom Sawyer, how does Mark Twain portray the town as a character?

Expert Answers

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Twain uses his talents at description and, more so, his development of Tom and Huck's "world" in order to make the small southern town a character in its own right.  While Twain could have just focused on Tom and his immediate acquaitances, he instead spends time "building" the people of the town and the beliefs that make up the town.  He describes people like the judge and the widow, and gives the boys' time to flush out their characters in their conversations.  Doing this makes the town "real", gives it "life", and therefore makes it a character. 

The character is old, and traditional.  The name of St. Petersburg helps to give it this feeling.  It is an opinionated and, often, backwards and unfair character.  It is prone to superstition and to gossip.  However, it is a family character, strong in its belief to help others.

The link below will describe the town in detail, which should further help you in explaining its importance.

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How does Mark Twain make the town a character in the Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and how would you describe this "character"?

The fictional town of St. Petersburg is a village on the west bank of the Mississippi River in and around which the novel is set. The town is the embodiment of innocence and naivete for the people and is a community in the truest sense. It is a safe haven for the characters where everyone takes care of everyone else and their children. The town provides the security of connections that humans need to interact and empowers the children's vivid imaginations. The close proximity of the Mississippi River gives the town an adventurous characteristic, adding as well to the imagination of all the people.

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