The Adventures of Tom Sawyer introduces several significant figures in American mythology, including the hero of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, one of the central works of American literature. Nonetheless, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is not just a dress rehearsal for its more powerful sequel. Allowing for nineteenth-century conventions of language and sentimentality in literature for young adults, the novel retains vitality and humor in exploring questions of freedom and responsibility. Like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the book presents limitation, alienation, and horror as elements profoundly affecting a small Missouri town's young people, whose minds are shaped as much by superstition, romantic fiction, and nightmare visions as by social convention. It also resembles The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in showing a painful moral growth that demands the risk of one's own welfare to assist another, while at the same time treating the reader to outlandish humor, melodramatic action, and a happy ending.
(The entire section is 154 words.)