The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Essay

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In the following essay, Trilling analyzes Twain's portrayal of childhood and parental responsibility in Tom Sawyer.

Mark Twain once said of Tom Sawyer, "It is not a boys' book at all. It will be read only by adults." We can suppose he was speaking defensively, with the extravagance of an irritated author. He had brought to the book his full powers of serious communication and he had no wish for it to be thought of as a mere children's book, what publishers call a "juvenile." Yet ever since its publication in 1876 until quite recently, the audience for Tom Sawyer has of course been primarily a youthful one. In fact, the American public has regarded it as one of those books peculiarly apt to induct any sensitive boy, and even any spirited girl, into the wholesome pleasures of reading.

This situation has now significantly altered. In the last few...

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This section contains 3,087 words
(approx. 8 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Study Guide
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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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