The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

A Grown-Up Empire: An Analysis of the Imperialistic Relationship Between Children and Adults in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer College

Of the many puzzles and questions woven throughout Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer, perhaps the most salient of all is the bizarre and often-times self-contradictory relationship between the various children of St. Petersburg and their adult counterparts. These relationships are defined by dozens upon dozens of smaller interactions between several different individuals in both groups, and come together to form a confusing skein of conflicting narratives. From truly the first word of the book, it is made clear the children and adults have a conflict-based and often adversarial relationship, where neither side is interested nor willing to give ground or capitulate, shown clearly in the first dozen lines of story, where Aunt Polly is first seen imperiously calling for Tom while threatening him under her breath (Twain 39). For his part, Tom—and the other children by extension—is not quite the humble and dutiful subject that such a tone seems to demand, tricking her less than a page later by yelling “look behind you, Aunt,” then turning tail and bolting (40). While this may seem like a relatively normal relationship to have between a child and his or her authority figure, albeit a rebellious one, this example is just a small part of a much...

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