Genvieve Francis Doctor Orser English 3331 Tom Sawyer is a Hero. Tom Sawyer, to many, seemed like a regular mischievous boy who lived for making his dear old Aunt Polly’s life miserable. However, if we examine the story closely, we see that Tom was not your regular boy-next-door kind of child. Even though we see where the notion of “Tom-foolery” developed as he was always up to some mischief, Tom was actually the hero portrayed in the story. Not because it is a self-titled story, but because he managed to save the day in one way or another for several people, including a few of the unlikely townspeople of St.
Petersburg. Tom had a few friends, including Huck Finn who seems to be such a free spirit to the other children. However, to Huck Finn and the other boys, Tom was placed on a mantle because of his thirst for adventure, especially when he was the swashbuckling character of Robin Hood. Figuratively, he was hero to his friends, and to those whom he saved. Tom was able to orchestrate a host of imaginative feats that won the hearts of his compatriots. We see where Tom was able to convince his friends to do just about anything, including a daring escape to Jackson’s Island.
Sadly, this attempt at self-pity backfired as several things went haywire on their escapade. Firstly, the raft that took them there went adrift and the boys had lost their chance of returning to St. Petersburg. Secondly Joe, one of Tom’s other friends, and Huck began to grow weary of the “pirate life” and wished earnestly to find a way back to their homes. They made miserable companions as the lengthy weekend drew on. After being missing long enough, the boys returned to a hero’s welcome at their own funerals.
This was well orchestrated by Tom, just so he could witness what it would be like to attend his own funeral. With that, he played hero to his two friends, Joe and Huck; Becky, his beloved; and the townspeople who were indeed very happy to see them, as obviously, they were thought to be dead. This has made Tom and his friend, Joe, very popular in school, as they were able to describe their adventures to the other children. The boys envied them, and the girls admired their bravery. So in his friends’ eyes, Tom was indeed a hero. We also see
Tom actually being heroic when he saved Becky Thatcher twice. In the first instance, we see Tom taking the fall for Becky after she was to be whipped for ripping a page from Mr. Dobbin’s anatomy book. Tom didn’t have to do this, but we see his generosity and compassion developing here as he refused to see Becky whipped, even if it was for something (be it stupid) that she had done. We witnessed when Mr. Dobbins was interrogating the students, and when he got to Becky, he asked: “Rebecca Thatcher, did you tear -no, look me in the face – did you tear this book? A thought shot like lightning through Tom’s brain. He sprang to his feet and shouted: “I done it! ” As such, we saw Tom heroically stepping up to save Becky a well-deserved thrashing. In the second instance, Becky and Tom were trapped in a cave and could not get out. Becky becomes bewildered and weak, and it was up to Tom to be strong for them both and eventually lead them out of the cave. Therefore, we see Tom stepping up as the hero again as he was able to save Becky not only by getting them out of the cave, but just in time to save Becky from starving to death.
We begin to see Tom maturing and he had grown to become better known as quick-witted, rather than cunning. Tom’s greatest heroic act received acclamation from the same people who found him obnoxious and annoying: the townspeople, and even gained him a spot in the town’s newspaper. Tom and Huck Finn were witnesses to the brutal murder of Dr. Robinson in the graveyard. Injun Joe, who is looked down on because of his race, was a bitter man. He was ill-treated by most of the townspeople, and that resulted in him being bitter; harbouring grievances in his heart for the people who treated him the worst.
It was with this grievance that he was driven to his heinous acts against people. In Dr. Robinson’s case, Injun Joe was motivated to cause harm as he was ill-treated by the doctor’s family and felt that they owed him. With that, he tried to extort money from the doctor, and when he was unsuccessful, he became aggressive, and much to the boys’ horror, Injun Joe stabbed the doctor to death. In the midst of all this, the town drunkard, Muff Potter, was there with Injun Joe to bear witness, and was ultimately blamed for the crime.
Muff Potter had no choice but to accept responsibility for the crime, solely because he was always drunk and incoherent and had no recollection of the event. Tom and Huck had made solemn promises not to breathe a word about the incident, but only one thing could change the course of events for Muff Potter, and it would be for either Tom or Huck to break their silence about what they saw. The moment of truth arrives, and Tom has reached an impasse as an innocent man’s life was at stake.
He was left no choice, as his conscience would not allow him to let an innocent man hang. Tom related his story about what he saw the fateful night of Dr. Robinson’s murder and the true murderer, Injun Joe, was identified, allowing Muff Potter his right to freedom, and ultimately averting what could have ended in disaster. In the beginning of chapter 24, Mark Twain even emphasized the fact that Tom was considered a hero: “Tom was a glittering hero once more—the pet of the old, the envy of the young.
His name even went into immortal print, for the village paper magnified him. There were some that believed he would be President, yet, if he escaped hanging. ” From the use of “once more” we see that Tom has been considered as a hero before, as mentioned above, and deserved the title he so rightly received. The idea of Tom being a hero is that he constantly saved the day, whether it was from something as trivial as Becky getting a whipping to the range of saving a man’s life through courage and standing up for what he considered to be the right thing.
Tom’s journey from childhood to maturity became more evident as the magnitude of his heroic acts increased throughout the text, with the highest point being where he saved Muff Potter’s life. Ultimately, we see where Tom was not only heroic, but we saw a selfless side of him when he splits the found treasure between him and Huck Finn, who was desperately in need of the spoils offered by the treasure. Heroism doesn’t necessarily come by physically saving someone’s life; Tom embodies the notion of heroism by giving of himself and even risking his life, by testifying against Injun Joe, much to the benefit of others.