My son is distance learning and I can overhear his class while I’m working at my desk in the next room. His class is full of bright, smart kids and his teacher is excellent. They’ve been studying excerpts from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and there have been times I can’t help but listen to the kids discussing it as it paints quite a contrast between generations.
Their readings this week covered a chapter where Tom tries to get Becky to break the rules and plays at Robin Hood with his pal Joe. As part of their discussion, they listed things about the characters.
Becky is kind and nice and wants to follow the rules while Tom is trying to get her into trouble and is the antagonist. In the game with Joe, Tom is seen as bossy and Joe is seen as someone who wants things to be fair.
I was curious about their assessment. I remember when I read Tom Sawyer I though Tom was more of a prankster than a bad guy. He might trick you into doing something but he did it with a smile and was willing to take his punishments when he was caught. He was the kid who came up with adventures and wanted to share them with friends and they usually worked out. He was the kid who thought the rules laid down by adults were stupid, so they should be ignored. But that was a view from the 20th Century when kids still went outside and had adventures, when maybe we were more trusting as a society that kids could run across town to parks and malls unsupervised by their parents.
But now that I think about it, Tom is really a the 19th century kid and all that that meant. So, yeah, I guess to kids of the 21st Century, Tom is kind of a jerk. Anyway, the kids did make me think about it, so I thought I’d share. I wonder how surprised they’re going to be to learn that Tom is the hero of the book.