“What’s gone with that boy, I wonder? You TOM!”
You guessed it; I am rereading Mark Twain’s, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Authors often get into deep discussions about book openings, this one is rather unique. It really doesn’t tell us anything other than either Tom is not there or he is not about to answer. Simple, but it made me keep reading when I was a kid and it kept me reading now.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is an 1876 story of a young boy growing up along the Mississippi. The story is set in the fictional St. Petersburg, inspired by Hannibal Missouri, where Twain grew up.
Tom Sawyer lived with his Aunt Polly and his half-brother, Sid. Tom dirties his clothes in a fight and is made to whitewash the fence the next day, as a punishment. He cleverly persuades his friends to trade him small treasures for the privilege of doing his work. This is the most well know scene in the novel and often portrayed on the cover.
Tom also falls in love with Becky Thatcher, a new girl in town, and persuades her to get "engaged" by kissing him. But their romance falls apart when she learns Tom has been engaged before. Shortly after being shunned by Becky, Tom accompanies his good friend Huck Finn to the graveyard at night. There the two witness the murder of Dr. Robinson. And the adventures continue.
So how did Twain write this story? I think this quote tells us.
“I conceive that the right way to write a story for boys is to write so that it will not only interest boys but strongly interest any man who has ever been a boy. That immensely enlarges the audience.”
- Letter to Fred J. Hall, 10 Aug 1892
Twain also ended this work in a most unconventional way, with a post script he entitled, conclusion. This conclusion started with the words, “SO ENDETH THIS CHRONICLE.”
It was an early work, maybe he wanted to add this final touch instead of, the end.
If you haven’t read Twain for a while, might be time.
“The difference between the right word and the nearly right word is the same as the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.” Mark Twain