What do you think?
Author Mark Twain called The Adventures of Tom Sawyer a "hymn to boyhood." Why do you think he calls it that? Do you think the author is nostalgic for his childhood? Are his memories accurate, or is he simply remembering only the fun stuff?
As a child in the 21st century, do you have anything in common with Tom and Huck?
Although he is disobedient, Tom seems to be loved by everyone. Why? What qualities does Tom possess that make people think positively of him? Do you think the author approves of Tom's behavior?
Why do you think Tom likes Huck? Why do you think Huck likes Tom? What do they have in common? Do you have a friend like Huck?
What would you have done if you witnessed the scene in the cemetery? Did Tom and Huck do the right thing that night?
Tom has no patience for the expectations and rules of adulthood. Do you think this changes over the course of the story?
Tom and Huck were superstitious. When they heard a dog barking during the night, it meant there was a ghost or that something bad would happen. Are you superstitious? Describe some of your superstitions.
What was your favorite part of the book?
Many of the characters in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer share similarities with real people in the author's life. Aunt Polly shares some traits with Twain's mother, and Sid resembles Twain's younger brother. Huck Finn, the Widow Douglas and Injun Joe were also based on real people. Why do you think Twain chose to base his characters on people he knew?
Do you think Tom takes his pranks too far? How would you feel if he pulled one of his pranks on you?
Did you like the ending of the book? Why or why not?
What do you think Tom would be like as an adult? Describe him as an adult.
Fun & Adventure Beyond the Book
So much has been written about Mark Twain and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer! Discover the history behind the book and how it came to be published.
If you really want to dive into the book and ponder a variety of issues and themes introduced by Twain, there are several good study guides available online. Try this thumbnail sketch or this in-depth guide (pdf download). After this, you should be able to garner an "A" in English, no sweat!
Were you amused by how scared Huck and Tom got when they heard a dog barking? They believed that if they heard a dog barking at night, it meant a ghost was in the area. It also meant something horrible was going to happen. There are a number of superstitions concerning dogs — how many do you believe?
Did you wonder why the men were robbing a grave? During the 19th century body snatching was common — learn why.
Mark Twain's real name was Samuel Clemens, and he was renowned as an author, lecturer, satirist and humorist. "Mark Twain" means "Mark Number Two"; it was a Mississippi River term. On the line that measured depth, the second mark signified two fathoms, or twelve feet — a steamboat's safe depth. You can learn more about Twain and see some of his notebooks, and visit the website of his childhood hometown: Hannibal, Missouri.
Learn what it was like to live along the Mississippi River and how Twain was influenced by his experiences living next to it. This website will also help you learn what the environment around the Mississippi is like today.
Want to go spelunking? That means to go caving, or exploring caves. It's definitely not something you want to do by yourself...or with someone who's never been before. (Remember what happened to Tom and Becky!) The MIT Caving Club gives a great introduction to the sport. Interested, but don't want to get dirty just yet? Check out the virtual cave tours on the National Speleological Society's website.
If You Like This Book, Check Out...
Grace Greene, from the Vermont Department of Libraries, says if you liked Tom Sawyer, youll probably enjoy these books as well:
Other books by Mark Twain:
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Many editions
The adventures of a boy and a runaway slave as they travel down the Mississippi River on a raft.
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Many editions
Hank Morgan, is mysteriously transported from the nineteenth century in Connecticut back to the fifth century in England.
Fitzgerald, John Dennis. The Great Brain. Dial, 1967. (and sequels)
The Great Brain faces the challenge of life at a strict Catholic boarding school with daring exploits and money-making schemes.
Lourie, Peter. Mississippi River: A Journey Down the Father of Waters. Boyds Mills, 2000.
An exploration of one of America's great rivers, from its headwaters in Minnesota to its mouth at the Gulf of Mexico.
Ransome, Arthur. Swallows and Amazons. David Godine, 1975 (and sequels)
In this best camping, sailing, adventure book ever, there are no villains or evil, but just a group of children having a fabulous time on their own.