Maturity is being portrayed


The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is an illustrious piece of work written by Mark Twain, who is an eminence writer during the nineteenth century. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is about a young boy named Tom Sawyer, a very mischievous boy with full of pranks and love to indulge himself in great adventures. As the story proceeds, Tom becomes a loving young man from a whimsical troublemaker. In my opinion, it is an interesting story, filled with incredible adventures, full of comments on the absurdity of human nature and also full of laughter. I chose this book because it deals with all the challenges that any young person faces in real life, and resolves them in exciting and unusual ways. The friendship that the main character had with his best friend was built on imaginative adventures, shared superstitions, and loyalty that rises above social convention. The friendship that Tom had with his best friend is one of the most celebrated in American literature and that is one of the reason I chose this book.

Maturation of Tom Sawyer which is the main character is one of the themes of the novel[1]. Maturity is a psychological term used to indicate that a person responds to the circumstances or environment in an appropriate and adaptive manner. This response is generally learned rather than instinctual, and is not determined by one's age. Maturity also encompasses being aware of the correct time and place to behave and knowing when to act with appropriate emotion for the situation.[2] I would like to know why certain events in the story portrayed maturity and has made the main character more mature. I chose maturation as the main issue to be discussed because I feel that as a teenager who is growing up, maturation is one of the important and the closest issue in one's life. Facing the challenges in everyday life and how to deal with the challenges appropriately is a great and a vital matter.

The story begins with the introduction of the character Tom Sawyer, who is kind of childish in his behaviour. At the beginning, Tom tricked Aunt Polly by saying that he did not play truant and went to school but instead, he went swimming and Sid told Aunt Polly the real story. Tom was being punished and he needed to whitewash the fence outside of the house on that Saturday morning. He tricked the neighbourhood boys to complete his chore by pretending that painting the fence was an interesting job to do. Apart from that, his childish acts are found mostly at the beginning of the story before he indulges himself in the adventures that cause him to be more mature. In the reviews of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Becky Laney stated that 'he's trouble, it's true, but beneath the surface he is a good boy'[3]. In my opinion, the goodness in Tom arises when he became more mature. There are 3 major aspects that shows maturation in Tom Sawyer which include the adventures that he had with Huckleberry Finn, his relationship with Becky Thatcher and his daily experiences.


The adventures that Tom Sawyer had with Huck include many incidents that show maturity. One of the maturation that Tom had portrayed include he realised the importance of justice when he testify at Muff Potter's trial. Tom and Huck witnessed Injun Joe murdered Dr. Robinson and ran away. After the incident, Tom and Huck promised each other not to tell anybody but they were shocked when innocent Muff Potter who was drunk that night was being blamed of murdering the young doctor. Tom and Huck visited Muff Potter while he was in jail and from that moment, there was a change in Tom's behaviour. Aftermath, he decided to testify during the trial and named Injun Joe as the murderer of Dr. Robinson. Injun Joe was nowhere to be found after that.

This incident shows maturity in Tom Sawyer because he started to realise that an innocent person was being accused for something that the person did not do and this is definitely wrong and preposterous. He knows what is right and what is wrong. He wished that Injun Joe was struck by lightning when he was lying. In my opinion, deciding to testify is a brave decision and reflects grace and maturity in him. Since Muff Potter was a nice friend to them and he expressed his gratitude to the boys because they came and paid him a visit, guilt came all over them. This chapter is one of the turning points in his life because Tom realised the importance of justice and because of friendship, he had the guts to testify in the trial. Besides t, he showed a sense of responsibility when he testified during the trial. Only Tom and Huck witnessed the crime and they were the only hope to reveal the truth in order to save Muff Potter from this mess

Apart from that, when Tom and Huck stayed close to Injun Joe in order to catch him is also one of the incidents that indicate maturity in him. He was able to plan how to find Injun Joe's hiding place with his best friend, Huck. He was responding to the circumstances and environment in an appropriate and adaptive manner. After Tom named Injun Joe as the murderer, he ran away from the town. While Tom and Huck were hunting for hidden treasures at the old haunted house on Still-House Branch, they accidently met Injun Joe and his companion. He was disguising as a deaf old Spanish man. He wanted to bury a bag filled with over six hundred dollars in silver. Tom and Huck who were hiding in the upper part of the house were delighted to know that their dreams of getting treasures would come true. Things got more interesting when Injun Joe found a box of gold coins before he buried his money. Unfortunately, Injun Joe noticed that the pick that he was using had fresh soil; he changed his plan and took the money and the new found box to his hiding place which he called 'Number Two'. From that moment, Tom and Huck vowed to stay close to Injun Joe, find his hiding place and catch him. Tom and Huck planned how they were going to find Injun Joe's hiding place. They went to the tavern and waited at the alley for Injun Joe. While Tom were lost in the cave with Becky Thatcher and was trying to find their way out, he saw Injun Joe in the cave. After Tom found his way out, he told Judge Thatcher that Injun Joe was still inside the dark and gloomy cave.

I find this incident shows maturity in Tom because he was able to plan how to find Injun Joe's hiding place with his best friend, Huck. At first, when Tom and Huck knew about the hiding place, they did not get any help from adults. They felt that they were strong and capable enough of catching Injun Joe on their own. On the other hand, after Tom saw Injun Joe in the cave, he told Judge Thatcher about it. He finally got the adult's help in order to catch the culprit. Getting the authority's help in order to catch a dangerous man was a mature act because it would help to prevent unwanted incident from occurring.

Besides staying close to Injun Joe, the incident where Tom ran away to Jackson's Island with his comrades is also one of the incidents which illustrate maturity. Although running away from his problems did not show maturity but as he was on that island, he was being able to think properly and some of his actions showed maturity. He realised his mistakes and promised not to repeat the same mistake again portrayed maturity. There is a summary analysis which stated that by running away to Jackson's Island, Tom had made an attempt to run away from reality[4]. But I felt differently. This is because, while he was on that island, he learnt to be independent and listen to his conscience. He cooked his own food; say his own prayers and many more. Before leaving St. Petersburg, Tom stole cold ham as his source of food for that particular day. At night, after saying his prayers, his conscience approached him. Guilt surrounded him. He started to think about his wrong doings which were running away and stealing food. From that moment, Tom swore not to steal in their piracy anymore. Apart from that, he admired the beauty of Mother Nature and the creatures in it. In my opinion, he was able to appreciate God's creation and this illustrates maturity.

Besides, taking the responsibility to inform the people who care about you and your whereabouts shows responsibility in that person. When he acted this way, I feel that he is turning into a young man from a childish person trying to be responsible towards what he had done. When Tom returned home, he saw Aunt Polly and Mrs. Harper were crying and weeping for the lost boys. The boys were thought to be dead after they got drown in the river. A funeral was being planned for them although their bodies were nowhere to be found. Tom felt very guilty and touched when he saw Aunt Polly was crying. He left a note to Aunt Polly while she was sleeping and kissed her. From the dialogue that Aunt Polly had with Mrs. Harper, these depict Tom Sawyer to realise that how much Aunt Polly loved and cared about him. He returned to the island and informed his comrades about the incident and planned to attend their own funeral.

Apart from that, the way Tom showed his friendship was through being concerned towards Huck and shared the love that he and Joe received portrayed maturity in him. When they attended their own funeral, everyone was shocked. Tom and Joe Harper were greeted with kisses and hugs from their beloved ones but Huck just stood there without knowing what to do. Abased and feeling uncomfortable, Huck did not know what to do or where to hide from the unwelcoming eyes. He had no one. Tom seized him and said,' Aunt Polly, it aint fair. Somebody's got to be glad to see Huck.'[5] Realising that his best friend was lonely, not showered with love from anyone and felt left behind, he came to the rescue. He wanted Huck to feel and share the love that he and Joe Harper were receiving from their loved ones. The friendship that he shared with Huck caused him to be concern about how Huck felt towards something. Friendship is one of the greatest gifts from God and in my opinion the way Tom showed his friendship was through being concerned towards Huck and shared the love that he and Joe received illustrates maturity in him.


Tom's relationship with Becky Thatcher had also made him more mature in certain ways. I feel that this incident, when Becky Thatcher got sick depicts maturity in Tom Sawyer because he was being very concerned towards the one who he loved. Before this, in his relation with Amy Lawrence, he was not very serious. But when he started having a relationship with Becky, he changed his attitude. When Becky got ill and stopped attending school, Tom's behaviour changed a little. He was very worried, concerned about Becky's health and thought about the possibility that she might die and what would happen if she really died. He seemed very sick. Aunt Polly tried to fix his 'illness' by giving him medications but nothing seemed to be working. His ailments could not be cured unless Becky recovered. Unfortunately, Aunt Polly did not realise that Tom was emotionally ill rather than his physical. Tom came early to school to check whether Becky was there or not, he lost interest in playing games with other kids at school, pirating and searching for adventures was no longer a passion and he was very far from getting himself in mischief and troubles.

After coming back from Jackson's Island, Tom apologized to Becky and asked for her forgiveness. In my opinion, Tom's act of pleading for forgiveness is a mature act because he wanted to save his relationship with Becky. He appreciates having Becky as his companion. From the conflicts that he had with Becky, it caused him to realise the importance to appreciate the one that he loved. Before this, Becky was ill and after she recovered, she ignored Tom and this caused Tom to run away from St. Petersburg. After he came back, in his glory, he decided that he could continue his life without Becky and he started to talk with Amy Lawrence, his ex-girlfriend. This caused Becky to be very furious and Tom being such a considerable person asked for Becky's forgiveness and wanted to make up. Although Becky did not accept Tom's apology but at least Tom tried to save his relationship with Becky. Apart from that, he realised that making Becky jealous by talking to Amy was not the right way to fix their relationship. He knew that what he did was wrong. Realising his wrong moves, he quickly apologised. It takes a mature person to realise and admit their mistakes.

On the other hand, Tom also saved Becky from the punishment that she should receive. After the incident where Tom pleaded for Becky's forgiveness and she refused to forgive Tom, Becky went to the empty school house. She saw Mr. Dobbins had left a key at the drawer lock of his desk. Every day, Mr. Dobbins will take out a mysterious book out of his desk and read it when he did not have any classes. Becky, who was feeling very curious, opened the drawer and took out the book. The title of the book was 'Professor Somebody Anatomy.' At that moment, Tom stepped in into the classroom startling at Becky. Becky accidently tore the book down the middle. Realising that she was going to be punished, Becky yelled angrily at Tom. When Mr. Dobbins found out that his book was being torn, he asked each and every child at school. When he asked Becky, she was succumbing and was looking very nervous. Tom who realised that she was going to say something suddenly sprang out shouted 'I did it.'[6] He admitted that he tore the book although he did not do it. For the sake of saving Becky from the punishment, he rather took the blame.

This incident showed maturity in Tom because the way he responded to the situation was very noble. Becky admitted herself that his act was very altruism by saying 'How could you be so noble?'[7] In my opinion, he did that that because of love. He was madly in love with Becky to the extent that he was willing to do anything for her. He was willing to take the whippings from Mr. Dobbins in order to save Becky. In spite of that, he knew that Becky would forever owe him. To me, he was being responsible in his own way. He thought by doing that, he would save their relationship.

Heroic navigation while Tom and Becky were lost in the cave was also one of the incidents that portrayed maturity in him. Becky and her family returned to town and Becky's mother had invitations out for a picnic for her and her classmates. An event Tom waited for a long time. Her mother was afraid that they would return late that night so she asked Becky to stay at Susy Harper's house who lived near the ferry landing. Tom persuaded Becky to go with him to Widow Douglas's place to have some ice-cream instead of going to Susy Harper's. After persuading Becky quite a few times, she finally agreed to go there. After Becky and her classmates had a good meal, they went to the McDougal's cave. They were very excited looking at the walls of the cave which were very unique. The picnickers went back to the ferry boat except for Tom and Becky. They were lost in the cave and could not find their way back. They were playing hide and seek, wandering off and reading the names and messages described on the limestone walls. They came across thousands of bats and ran away from the bats. They were scared that the bats would fly towards them and diminished their candles. They knew they were lost and Tom took charge in order to find their way back.

I find this incident shows maturity in the main character because he seemed to know what to do and which precautionary steps to be taken in order to get them out of the cave safely. He asked Becky to blow her candle and used his candle to conserve the wick and they shared a piece of cake bit by bit that Tom had in his pocket to avoid starvation. When Becky was tired, Tom asked her to rest and held the kite strings while he went to find a way out. This was to avoid Tom and Becky got separated while Tom was walking. In my opinion, Tom felt that this was his responsibility to cope with the situation and take charge. From a troublemaker and an irresponsible person, Tom turned out to be a responsible young man when he was facing this situation. Worst situation that one is having can bring out the good side of that person. Before this, he was an irresponsible person. He did not take his punishment correctly and asked somebody else to finish off his job. But now, he became a different young man. While he was searching his way back, he found Injun Joe in the cave. He ran back to Becky using the kite strings that he was holding in order to protect Becky. In my opinion, protecting the one that you love from any kind of danger is a caring and a noble act that a mature person possesses. To me, he also learnt to overcome his fear of Injun Joe while he was in the cave. Starvation was a bigger issue to him rather than Injun Joe.


Tom also portrayed maturity in his daily activities. In my opinion, the act of persuading Huck to continue staying with Widow Douglas was a mature act. This is because, Tom knew that Huck had nobody to take good care of him and he had no rules in life. Staying with Widow Douglas to him was the best choice for his best friend. The connection that Huck and Widow Douglas had dragged him into the society. Huck saved Widow Douglas's life from Injun Joe and as a return the widow offered Huck to stay with her. Huck accepted her offer. While staying with her, he needed to wear clean clothes, use proper utensils while eating and go to school just like other boys in town. Huck found that he was not comfortable and convenient in that kind of life and he ran away after three weeks staying there. He did not have the freedom that he used to have anymore. I find Tom was mature in this situation because he started realising what is the best choice in life and the reasons for it. He was able to distinguish between the good and the bad. The way he persuaded Huck was also very unique. He knew about Huck's interests, strengths and weaknesses. The friendship that they shared caused Tom to know more about Huck. In order for Huck to be in Tom Sawyer's Gang, Huck needed to be respected. If not, he could not join the gang anymore. That was the condition that Tom set so that Huck would stay with the widow. He wanted to be in the gang so he was willing to stay with the widow as long as he is in the group.

Furthermore, the incident where Tom witnessed the murder of Dr. Robinson also showed that Tom really cared for his Aunt Polly's feelings. He was being caring towards the person that he loved. He went out late that night where he witnessed the murder and this caused Aunt Polly to worry about him. Despite all the troubles that he got himself into, he did not have any intention to hurt the old lady. 'This was worse than a thousand whippings' thought Tom as Aunt Polly cried over him[8]. He cried and pleaded for forgiveness. There is no doubt of his honesty of asking for forgiveness. Although he loved to indulge himself in troubles he was still a good boy at heart and in my opinion this portrays maturity in him.

Furthermore, Tom also portrayed maturity when Tom got bored with all his free time and tried to fill it with various new activities instead of his old activities. This was when the school holidays started. He always played and fooled around during his past time. But after getting bored with it, he started writing up a diary, formed a musical band and sometimes joined parties with his friends at school. In my opinion he was shifting his behaviour from a childish person to a more mature teenager. He found his old activity was not appealing anymore. One of the reasons was because Becky was not in town at the moment. He tried to change his activity in order to get Becky out of his mind at that moment.

Apart from that, he became more mature by realising that completing the task that had been given to him is a must. Tom went to Sunday school where he learnt about the Bible. For the sake of completing his homework, he had to memorise some of the verses from the Bible. He also memorised the verses for the sake of winning the Bible and to get glory, yet, the positive values contained in the Bible was being embedded in him. In my opinion this is one of the reasons which made him a mature adolescent.

On top that, he realised the importance to care for and to protect a family member or a close friend based on his daily experiences. His sister, Mary had a strong sense of family duty and she was a loving and dutiful sister. She had shown her support, care and unconditional love to Tom. She bathed him and got him ready for school. This was a routine that she would do without complaining. Her love and affection shown, made him realised the importance to care for and to protect a family member or a close friend. This was shown when he helped his innocent friend Muff Potter who was accused of killing young Dr Robinson and naming Injun Joe as actual murderer. Aunt Polly too had played her role in moulding Tom to be a mature and caring person. This was shown when she kept changing medicine in order to cure the sick Tom. Aunt Polly was so concern about him. She did not know that Tom was emotionally sick because he missed Becky. So, she tried all kinds of medicine to cure him. Aunt Polly really cared deeply and passionately for him. The care and concern that Aunt Polly had shown him, made him realise that to care for another person is a way of giving a helping hand and to protect the needy.


Conclusion, the main character portrays maturity in his act as the story proceeds. He becomes mature in three aspects which include his adventures with Huckleberry Finn, his courtship with Becky and also his daily experiences. There are many incidents in the novel that shows Tom is transforming into mature young man from a whimsical troublemaker. According to the British Quarterly review in October 1876[9], it is stated that,' an unscrupulous scapegrace is sure to turn out a noble young man'. The experiences that Tom had are helping him to be a noble person. But, he did not become really mature throughout the story, as some of his acts were still childish. His maturation is not totally coherent. Yet, he is still transforming into responsible a young man.

  5. Page 134 Chapter 18 from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  6. Page 152 chapter 21 from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
  7. Page 153 chapter 21 from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
  8. Page 83 chapter 10 from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

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