Tom COULD NOT be more further from the “model Christian boy.” He does just about everything “wrong” and purposefully breaks the rules. Instead, he lives the Romantic ideal, especially when he and two friends run away to an island. Pay close attention to his musings, his thoughts, his self-analysis, the kind of books he reads, the decisions he makes (being friends with Huck the Untouchable, taking punishment for Becky’s wrong-doings, saving an innocent man). What kind of person does this show us?
To help you out, think of our most favorite contemporary characters. How many of them exhibit this mixture of good and bad. How many of these male characters, like Captain Jack Sparrow, Han Solo, Batman, break all the rules, but have a heart of gold.
What I want you to focus on as you read it is the connection between Transcendentalism and the character of Tom. If Alcott in Little Women gave us her vision of the kind of woman an American should be, and with Laurie, the kind of American boy she thought ought to be, what does the story of Tom tell us about the kind of American boy Twain thinks we should cultivate. How is Tom a transcendentalist?
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