Dear Tom Sawyer: Just Stop. Stop It.

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From page 568 of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn:
(Huck) "'Jim ain't got no tin plates. They feed him in a pan.'
(Tom) 'That ain't nothing; we can get him some.'
'Can't nobody READ his plates.'
'That ain't got anything to DO with it, Huck Finn. All HE'S got to do is write on the plate and throw it out. You don't HAVE to be able to read it. Why, half the time you can't read anything a prisoner writes on a tin plate, or anywhere else.'
'Well, then, what's the sense in wasting the plates?'
'Why, blame it all, it ain't the PRISONER'S plates.'
'But it's SOMEBODY'S plates, ain't it?'
'Well, spos'n it is? What does the PRISONER care whose-'"

Tom was really getting under my skin in these last chapters. He has an answer for every little unneccesary idea he has. Talking to Tom, Huck looks more level-headed than ever. What's worse, Tom draws on all the stories he's read for inspiration. Tom's perception of reality seems way off, like he thinks he's invincible because he himself is in a story (which, yes, in this book he is, but in the sense that this story is actually taking place, he is alive). All of his ideas for doing things "proper" are unneccessary and budrensome.

And what's worse, later we find out that he KNOWS Jim has been set free! He plays around all that time, risking his and Huck's and Jim's safety just for an adventure! Although Tom might play the role of leader, Huck is the one that should be given the reigns.

6 Comments

Yes, because Huck is ostensibly the author of the book we are reading, we have to add that level of complexity to our understanding, since Huck is both an unreliable narrator and also an unreliable author! Do you think Clemens meant for us to dislike Tom, the way Hawthorne meant for us to be angry at the Puritan closed-mindedness? Or do you think your frustration at Tom is due mostly to our 21st-century viewpoint -- our distance from the culture being depicted?

If we take the words for what they are and the book for what it is and appreciate that fictional American Literature is just that, fictional then why do we have to read so much into it? I totally agree with Pat, especially for the fact that Tom did know the truth about Jim's release but still wanted an adventure like the books that he read. I think I would have beat Tom's butt if I was Huck for putting us all in danger.

Well, I think that Tom will be Tom. The fact that he just spills the beans shows that he really wanted the reactions of all those around him. He feeds of the energy he gets from the notoriety.

I wrote my blog on the last idea you touched upon. The reader can really see just how cruel and manipulative Tom is by setting an already free slave free. He knew Jim was to be freed by Miss watson's will, yet he selfishly kept him around for fun. The $40 he paid him off also really irked me.

I think it's frustrating because we are looking at Tom from a 21st century viewpoint. Tom is still a kid and he's a bit of a spoiled brat that wanted to be in charge. During the 19th century his treatment of Jim wasn't any worse than how most slaves were treated. That doesn't make it right though.

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This page contains a single entry by PatrickSchober published on October 17, 2010 10:31 AM.

Response to Bennett's "Reinventing the World and Reinvented the Self in Huck Finn" was the previous entry in this blog.

Rough Draft of Writting Section of "Behold! The Griffin!" is the next entry in this blog.

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