The Big Read

By Quanteric Pope | Contributor

This year’s Big Read is Mark Twain’s, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.” Hailed as an American classic, this story is also an adventure for the reader; one that keeps the reader at full-throttle. 

Authored in 1876 the novel has become a staple in middle and high school literature curriculums. However, a second (or even third) reading at college level provides a much deeper experience. The historical context, the depths of Tom’s ethical dilemma and the intricacies of character development are all aspects brought out on a college-level read that may have been overlooked when first read. 

If it’s been a while since you last travelled to the world of Tom Sawyer, the story takes place in the 19th century fictitious town of St. Petersburg, Mo. It follows 12-year-old Tom, who has a yearning for adventure. Introduced as one who is always up to no good, Tom uses his wits and charm to influence friends, family and tip the scale in his favor. Like Twain, Tom is a story teller; he transports himself and his friends into the make believe stories he enjoys reading about, such as pirates and Robin Hood. Tom finds love and heartbreak. Tom’s sneaky behavior gets him and his friend Huck into a traumatic situation where they witness a murder. His final adventure starts with him getting lost in a cave with his “wife” Becky Thatcher. In the end Tom’s cleverness helps them escape. Twain’s artful approach to Tom’s character progression is one to be admired; Tom grows without ever losing his boyish charm. In the end, Tom has more than he ever had at the beginning: a closer relationship with his family, new love and riches. 

If you enjoy the characters and want to know what happens next in their story, be sure to check out Twain’s sequel, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.“