Mark Twain'S Tom Sawyer: Charms Of American Literature

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'Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.' Such was the view of Mark Twain, pseudonym for Samuel L. Clemens. Widely regarded by those like Ernest Hemingway as the first and best writer of true American fiction, Twain wrote many works using his wit and humor to reveal the whole truth of America in his lifetime. The first and most famous of his works as an author was the book Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Twain’s use of common dialect and language reveal many problems in the then current American society including: racism, social class, and adherence to society. It is recognized today for the brilliant use of an innocent child's voice and perception as a means of telling the powerful story of slavery's survival in the United States (Lutz). “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.” - Ernest Hemingway.

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Although the book warranted great success it is also one of the most controversial books written. Twain uses racial slurs over two hundred times. For this reason the book has been banned in many libraries and colleges; however, the use of this language was not to promote racism but to expose it for the evil it was. Even with the controversy Adventures of Huckleberry Finn remains one of Mark Twain’s best work and one of the greatest American books ever written. Along with his views on slavery, Twain also wrote about his view of greed and corruption. Twain collaborated with Charles Dudley Warner on The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today a satirical view of a post civil war United States. By calling the age “gilded” rather than “golden” Twain and Dudley pointed out that though America had a booming economy and philanthropy reality was that there were many problems hidden in America (Gailey).

As a result it became common to refer to the late 1800’s to early 1900’s as the gilded age. In spite of this the book itself was not received well and is one of the lesser known books that he wrote. Before Twain solidified himself as a historic writer with Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, he began with its precursor The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. modeled after Twain himself, Tom Sawyer is a virtually unknown kid in a small town who engages in many thrilling adventures and escapades throughout the book. Be that as it is not solely a children’s book. From the preface of the book Twain writes, “Although my book is intended mainly for the entertainment of boys and girls, I hope it will not be shunned by men and women on that account, for part of my plan has been to try to pleasantly remind adults of what they once were themselves, and of how they felt and thought and talked, and what queer enterprises they sometimes engaged in.” Indeed there are many child-like and adult themes throughout the book.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is not merely a classic. It is part of American history and culture. More than anything else it set American childhood. Twain created Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer as not just children but also human beings capable of the same mistakes. They were not angels but maybe more lovable for the bad hygiene and imperfections. American literature will never be the same.(Kipen). Mark Twain’s humor, imagination, and experiences all helped him in creating captivating stories and characters like those of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Throughout his lifetime Twain wrote many works, some great and some insignificant; regardless, to quote Eugene O’Neill, “Mark Twain is the true father of all American literature.”

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