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Tom Sawyer is the protagonist and title character of the Mark Twain novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876). He appears in three other novels by Twain: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), Tom Sawyer Abroad (1894), and Tom Sawyer, Detective (1896).

Sawyer also appears in at least three unfinished Twain works, Huck and Tom Among the Indians, Schoolhouse Hill, and Tom Sawyer's Conspiracy. While all three uncompleted works were posthumously published, only Tom Sawyer's Conspiracy boasts a complete plot, as Twain abandoned the other two works after finishing only a few chapters.

The fictional character's name may have derived from a real-life Tom Sawyer with whom Twain was acquainted in San Francisco, Californiamarker, while Twain was employed as a reporter at the San Francisco Call. The character himself is an amalgam of three boys Twain knew while growing up.

The name Sawyer is derived from the Mississippi River pilot's term for a "tree in the bed of the river with its branches reaching the surface and moving up and down with the current." Twain was a river pilot at one time, and many of the adventures of his character, Tom Sawyer, are connected with the Mississippi River, and partly derive from this experience.

Character description

Tom Sawyer is an adventurous, playful boy, a natural showoff who likes to show his authority over other boys. He is around 12-13 years old as gathered from hints in Twain's works. Tom is supposed to represent the carefree and wonderful world of boyhood in the antebellum era. His best friends include Joe Harper and Huckleberry Finn. In The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Tom's infatuation with Becky Thatcher is apparent. He has a half-brother, Sid, a cousin, Mary, and his aunt is known as Aunt Polly, with all of whom he lives. Tom is Aunt Polly's dead sister's son. It is unknown how Tom's mother died.

In Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Tom is only a minor character, and is used as a foil for Huck, particularly in the later chapters of the novel. Tom's immaturity and obsession with stories and his imagination put Huck's planned rescue of Jim in great jeopardy. Throughout the novel Huck's intellectual and emotional development is a central theme, and by re-introducing a character from the beginning (Tom), Twain is able to highlight this evolution in Huck's character. Tom is treated in a less than stellar light in Huck's novel, often portrayed as selfish, deluded, and particularly racist, for his treatment of Jim and others.

Appearances in works by others

Clement Wood wrote a sequel to Twain's work Tom Sawyer Grows Up.

In 1968/1969 there appeared a half cartoon/half live action series The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with Tom Sawyer; Becky Thatcher, and Huckleberry Finn chased by Injun Joe.

Tom Sawyer appears as an adult in the film The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, where his characterization is based loosely on his appearance in Tom Sawyer, Detective.

The Adventures of Commy Cinya and Minion Sawyer is a book where the arch villain, Cinya, conquers close by lands through use of her evil communist powers is also loosely tied in with the character.

He appears in an episode of "Fairly Odd Parents", "Shelf Life," when Timmy wishes him out of his book into the real world, so that he can tell Timmy about his adventures and thus give him the knowledge needed to do his 500-page book report without actually having to read a book. However, Tom tricks Cosmo and Wanda into giving him their wands and uses them to enter several of the other books on the table, where he attempts to humorously alter the subject matter of the stories for his own amusement, such as turning Moby Dick into "Moby Duck". He also constantly complains about life in Missourimarker and refuses to return at all costs.

He appears in the "Phineas and Ferb" episode "Put that Putter Away" when Dr. Doofenshmirtz is in his beach house, before Perry the Platypus bursts in, you can see he is listening to "Tom Sawyer, Translated Into "EVIL".

He appears in the Futurama, episode "The Day the Earth Stood Stupid". In the episode Fry goes through multiple famous stories to stop the Big Brain. He tricks the Big Brain into whitewashing his fence for him, as famously portrayed in the book The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

In the episode "Simpsons Tall Tales" Bart Simpson and Nelson Muntz play the role of Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn in the third segment of the episode. Huckleberry Finn is also referenced in the episode "The Boy Who Knew Too Much", with a plot similar to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

The band Rush performs a song titled "Tom Sawyer".

Serbian musician Đorđe Balašević released a song titled "Za sve je kriv Toma Sojer" (trans. "It's all Tom Sawyer's Fault") on his 1982 album Pub. The song tells a story of three boys who ran away from home influenced by The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

In the ABC series Lost, the character James Ford adopted the nickname 'Sawyer' after a confidence man (aliased as Tom Sawyer) made his dad kill himself and his mother. He sought to seek revenge and became a confidence man himself. Also, like Tom Sawyer, he is from the southern United States.

Disney released a movie in 1995 titled Tom and Huck, starring Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Brad Renfro as the title characters respectively.

Puerto Rican Reggaetón duo, Calle 13 mention Tom Sawyer on their hit, 'Atrévete' (Dare). One line says, "El gori' que ha brinca'o mas charcos que Tom Sawyer", meaning "The gorilla that has jumped more puddles than Tom Sawyer".

In Binbou danshi (Bonbi men) Japanese drama, the 6th episode talks about how the story applies to life.

Tom's relationship with Becky Thatcher is debunked in the novel "Becky: The Life and Loves of Becky Thatcher" by Lenore Hart.

In the VeggieTales DVD Tomato Sawyer and Huckleberry Larry's Big River Rescue, Bob the Tomato is Tomato Sawyer.

The Kings Of Appletown, a new movie is scheduled for release in 2009. A modern take of Tom Sawyer starring The Suite Life of Zack & Cody stars Dylan and Cole Sprouse as cousins Will & Clayton.

In a short Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends clip, Bloo was punished and had to alphabetize the trash. Helped by Mac, he tricks other imaginary friends into doing the work, thinking it was fun. But, just before he was to slip away, he became tricked himself, and shooed everyone away.


  2. Twain, M., Introduction; The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, 1876

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