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[YRP Students' Essays] Tom Sawyer: the Charming Character of the World-famous Novel

An attractive character is one element that makes a story interesting. This character has the ability to draw us into the story with ease. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) would be a perfect example. The main character of this book, Tom Sawyer, is characterized, from his unique actions and words, as a lovable boy. Several of his characteristics support this fact.

One characteristic that makes Tom attractive is how he is slightly foolish. From conversations between him and his friends, readers notice that he believes in ineffective "charms," similar to the one described by Tom in this quote: "Yes, that's it, Huck ? that's it; though when you're burying it if you say 'Down bean; off wart; come no more to bother me!' it's better." These are Tom's words when he is explaining to Huck, his friend, about the charm that cures warts with a bean. Also, Tome treats pieces of junk ? for example, marbles, dead rats, and fragments of chalk ? as though they are very valuable. There are scenes from this book that show how he and his friends trade this junk with each other to get what they want, for example, a tick. Compared to perfectly intelligent characters, it is easier for us to understand a slightly dumb character.

Another characteristic that makes Tom attractive is how he wishes to become someone who impresses people with his daring in the face of danger. In the first part of this book, Tom decides to become a pirate who will be respected for his formidableness ? a thought that is shown in this quote: "...and hear with swelling ecstasy the whisperings, 'It's Tom Sawyer the Pirate! ? the Black Avenger of the Spanish Main!'" Near the end of the story, he changes his mind and decides to become a noble robber. This idea is described in his own words: "A robber is more high-toned than what a pirate is ? as a general thing. In most countries they're awful high up in the nobility ? dukes and such." Along with the quick change in his opinion, his ideas are childish and innocent, that makes the reader want to smile at his cuteness.

A third characteristic that makes Tom attractive is how he is kind to women. Once, in the story, Tom saved his girlfriend by willingly getting punished for something that his girlfriend had done. Becky Thatcher, Tom's girlfriend, accidentally ripped the teacher's book, and Tom courageously confessed that he was the one who did it. Tom took his whippings with a determined heart. On another occasion, when he and his friends were talking about how they would act when they became pirates, Tom said that they would not harm the women, as shown in this quote: "'No,' assented Tom, 'they don't kill the women ? they're too noble. And the women's always beautiful, too.'" This is a very good point in him that shows a contrast between his kind heart and his rough, boyish thoughts, therefore making him attractive.

Because Tom is an attractive character, the reader is motivated to know more about him, and as a result, Tom pulls us into the story. It is no exaggeration to say that this fact is the main reason why this book is so readable.

Child Research Net would like to thank the Doshisha International Junior/Senior High School and Haruko Kuwahata, student and author, for permitting reproduction of this article on the CRN web site.

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