Mark Twain’S Childhood Experiences In The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer

In The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain shows the joys of childhood when the world is full of wonders and children are free of the heavy responsibilities of entering adulthood. Being an adult comes with many responsibilities, and as a kid, Tom did not have any specific responsibilities or any examples to help him progress in his maturity. As a child, Twain had a very rough life with many unexpected deaths, hardships, and difficult challenges for his beloved family. Since The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was loosely based on Twain’s childhood; there are many similarities between his feelings, the characters, where they go, and what happens. These all correlate greatly to Tom Sawyer’s life as well. Twain wanted to write and publish this particular book because it helped immortalize Hannibal as St. Petersburg. His Hannibal days were very rich and because of his observation and sharp memory, later in his life it gained him all the inspiration to write that he needed. Unlike most people, who go through that much tragedy in life and try their best to forget it all, Mark Twain did the complete opposite. This turned out to be very beneficial on his part and contributed to the fame he had acquired up to the end of his career.

In the preface of the first edition of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark 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. ” (Twain Preface) Twain was faced with a very difficult childhood with many obstacles that he was forced to face and overcome, so forming these characters based loosely on people and real events that happened, helps to make his childhood seem much more pleasant to the reader and help him relive the nostalgia of the time before his brother’s passing, while immortalizing his beloved home town. In The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain writes all about exploring the idea of growing up and acts as a sort of “semi- bildungsroman” (Enotes) , by tracing the characters’ life and story line as they venture through the beginnings of their maturity. During this process, they are faced with real problems, such as deciding if an innocent man should lose his freedom and go to jail. In the beginning, Tom is only pulling small pranks or going on little adventures where he does not think much about the consequences, but toward the middle of the story Tom is faced with a very mature problem.

Tom and Huck witness the murder in the graveyard and Injun Joe frames Muff Potter, who is innocent of the crime. Here they have to decide whether to claim justice while causing danger to themselves, or let an innocent man be hung.

Twain’s life was very difficult and full of many unfair hardships that greatly affected his writing as well as his overall outlook on life. Originally born on November 30, 1835 in Florida, Twain had seven siblings- Orion Clemens, Henry Clemens, Benjamin Clemens, Pleasant Clemens, Pamela Clemens, and Margaret Clemens. At age 4, his family moved to Hannibal-where the story’s setting is based off of. Even though it was a small town consisting of only 1000 citizens, it was full of danger. Mark Twain saw his first murder when he was nine years old. When he was eleven years old his father passed away very unexpectedly due to pneumonia. He was a very hard worker who struggled to put food on the table for his large family and was a very unhappy fellow and Twain claimed to never have seen him laugh. His mother, who was the complete opposite of their father, now became head of the household, but they were forced into an even worse economic struggle. Twain dropped out of school when he was twelve years old and started working as an apprentice printer at the Hannibal Courier, which paid him in rations of food. Then at fifteen years old he got a job as a printer, occasional writer, and editor at the Hannibal Western Union which was a newspaper owned by his brother, Orion. Then at twenty-one years old, Twain fulfilled his dream of learning how to pilot a steamboat. Then his lifelong dream of being a licensed pilot was brought to a halt due to the fact of the Civil War. He then joined the Confederate Army until his unit was disbanded a few weeks after he joined. In 1861, he headed to Nevada and California in search of finding gold but failed to find a way to support his struggling family. Soon after his failure of striking riches, he became known as the best storyteller in the West. A few years later he married Olivia Langdon and had four children.

The couple lost one child to diphtheria at age four, Langdon Clemens; another to spinal meningitis at age twenty four, Olivia Susan Clemens; a third one to a heart attack at age twenty nine, Jane Clemens; and their middle child, Clara Clemens, was always fighting with Twain and had an overall unhealthy relationship. (Biography) Having a difficult childhood obviously affected and formed Twain’s writing style especially since The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was based on his early life.

In the beginning of the novel, Mark twain says most of the adventures written down actually occurred, According to The Boys Life of Mark Twain, “He tells us that Huck Finn is drawn from life; Tom sawyer also, though not from a single individual, being a composite of three boys whom Mark Twain had known. The three boys were himself, almost entirely, with traces of two schoolmates, John Briggs and Will Bowen. John Briggs was also the original of Joe Harper, the “Terror of the Seas. ” As for Huck Finn, the “Red-Handed,” his original was a village waif named Tom Blankenship, who needed no change for his part in the story. ” Old Ben, the father, shiftless and dissolute; young Ben, the eldest son–a doubtful character, with certain good traits; and Tom–that is to say, Huck, who was just as he is described in the books also believed that Tom Sawyer is based on a friend Twain met in a bar, according to The Smithsonian, Mark Twain soon became terrified of steamboats due to the fact that his brother passed away while aboard one.

While aboard a different boat, Twain met Sawyer, the drinking firefighter. When Twain had to go back to town, he greatly missed Sawyer and asked him to come back for a visit because he began to miss their crazy adventures and escapades. According to Mark Twain himself, the Characters Old Ben, young Ben, Tom, and Huck were just as he is described in the book. Twain included the adventures of Will Pitts and Will Bowens in the novel. Huckleberry Finn is based on a village waif named Tom Blankinship, who was very poor in his early life and much of an outcast. (Authorama) Judge Thatcher is based on his father: Aunt Polly on his mother; Mary and Sidney (Tom’s cousin and brother) are based on Clemens’s sister Pamela and his brother Henry. (Bloom 16) The town, St. Petersburg, Missouri, in the story is also made up but based on his town where he grew up, Hannibal, Missouri. The correlations between Clemens's courtship of Olivia and Tom's courtship of Becky are shocking. Otherwise, aspects of all these real life figures can be seen some way or another in Becky Thatcher, his childhood crush, originally Laurie Hawkins.

In conclusion, Mark Twain was gifted with the talent of writing, which he used to weave his life story and experiences into his works while simultaneously entertaining many generations of children and adults alike. Through the death of his father and brothers, and even his children, he became successful in immortalizing their legacy. His style of writing captures the reader’s attention while delivering his message to all who decide to indulge themselves in his work.

31 October 2020
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