The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Tom's Bugs

Tom Sawyer is a boy's boy. He's mischievous, he's adventure seeking, he's fascinated with bugs. Yet while much has been written about these first two personality traits, it is the third one the unexamined territory of Tom's insectuous interactions that intrigues me. Throughout my reading of Tom Sawyer there was a prevalent buzzing in my ear a nipping at my neck. It became apparent to me that while the main characters in the novel may be Tom, Becky, and Huck, some of the key players in the story have no lines at all. Instead, they have wings.

In this paper, I examine most of the cases where insects creep their way into Tom's story. Sometimes their presence may go unnoticed, but at others, their sting is long-lasting. The small references to Tom's insect encounters will be mentioned simply to establish that, in an example of art imitating life, the bugs are everywhere. Yet it is the cases when the symbolic message of the insect is impossible to ignore that we will deal with in the greatest detail.

Prior to putting specific examples under the microscope, let us quickly attempt to get all the bugs out of the book. We will examine with an entomologist's precise eye the star bugs: the fly and the...

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