Tom Sawyer like every child just wants to be free, adventurous, moral, and intelligent. Born in the heart of the South, in Missouri, Tom, an orphan, lives with his Aunt Polly and cousins and loves to play hooky so he can go fishing.
His aunt tries her best to tame him, dragging him to church and punishing his rebelliousness.
Mondays are the worst for him because a week of dull education looms before him. If Tom is late, like he is so often, he will probably be the recipient of the switch, laid gustily upon his back by the boring schoolmaster.
On a certain Monday, his heart soars because there is a new girl in school by the name of Becky Thatcher, and he is instantly in love.
He gives her a doorknob as a sign of his affection and things look bright until he blunders by announcing the name of his previous heartthrob, Amy Lawrence, and Becky has a fit of anger.
That night he sneaks out of the house with Huckleberry Finn and witnesses Injun Joe, Dr. Robinson, and Muff Potter robbing graves. An argument ensues between Potter and Dr. Robinson and Potter is struck down. Injun Joe kills the doctor, putting the knife in the now unconscious Potter’s hand. Potter awakens and thinking he has killed Dr. Robinson, begs Joe not to tell anyone and the two flee the scene.
Huck and Tom decide to keep mum and swear a blood oath after which Tom creeps back home. The next morning his Aunt cries over him and Tom receives back the doorknob he has given to Becky. The body of the murdered doctor and the bloody knife are soon discovered and the town is in chaos.
It doesn’t matter that this book was written well over 100 years ago. Tom is as appealing today as he was then. The mischievous boy rings a chord across time. We all know a child as naughty as Tom.
Even when he doesn’t do something wrong, he cannot keep away from trouble. When the weather is good, he skips school and goes swimming. He sneaks out at midnight to meet Huck Finn at the graveyard with a dead cat. Aunt Polly keeps trying to get Tom to behave.
Tom knows how to exchange treasures for his own gain. What is the worth of a frog? or the knob of an andiron? Tom uses his treasures to get a Bible, show his love, or bribe a friend. He is an entrepreneur of first rank.
The foray into the cemetery brought extra trouble for Tom and Huck. They witnessed a murder. They were afraid for their own lives and swore to keep quiet. They knew Injun Joe would kill them as well if he knew they had seen his act. Now what do they do?
Tom is unforgettable and squirms right into a person’s imagination and heart. The book shows the joy of childhood as well as the acceptance of change. But most of all it reveals that we all have a little Tom Sawyer in us!