Tom Character was Genuis on Twain's Part

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"the evasion suggests, society can live up to its promises and its claims on honor and "set the nigger free." (11).

When I first started reading this article I was still only looking at Tom's character as a direct representation of the corrupt white society that was used for us to have a more clear view of it.  Even at this point I thought it was smart for Twain to bring Tom in at the end to make this comparison.  He could have easily just had the men of the society place the hardships on Jim and take away his humanity similar to the way Tom did during the escape, but I thought bringing Tom in to do the dirty work added depth.  I never realized the potential of this depth until I read continued to read the article.  When Scott first started to discuss his view on the ending through honor, I did not see where he was going with this point.  Even though I appreciated his use of honor to add more depth to the ending, I still viewed this as an honorable dedication to the views of a corrupt society.  It was not until Scott clearly painted the picture for me how Tom's honor takes on a slightly different meaning that the honor of society.  Even though both did not represent our definition of reality, Tom's honor was used to add meaning to his reality, while Society's was just a tool to cover up the reality they did not have the courage to face.  I had more respect for Scott's essay at this point, but it was not until the end remarks when I was truly convinced of the weight of his claims.  My quote above is why I am impressed with this essay.  Tom is obviously used as a representation of white society and was created "as an attack on the Southern (white) mind.  But, his character does not stop there. Even though I initially looked to Huck as the role-model, after reading the ending to this essay, I now believe Twain created Tom to also serve as the role-model for the corrupted society.  Huck essentially would have a much smaller effect on society as he is withdrawn from it.  Huck can be the "what" we should be doing while Tom's honor can be the "how" we should be doing it.  I still view Tom as another tool to represent the society, but this essay shined a light on another dimension to Tom for me.   


2 Comments

TOM as a role model.

Katie Lantz said:

I really like the points you make here Jessica. I think you found a lot of redeeming qualities about Tom Sawyer.

While your response is quite convincing, I still think that Tom was used as a character of malice toward Jim. Tom played so many cruel tricks that could have taken Jim's life from him. This was not just a simple mischievous act, but it was another form of slavery.

Tom's deliberate actions against Jim show that he was not being a role model, but that he was acting as society.

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