The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

by Mark Twain
Reviewed by Aslan's Lamb

Funny ,well-written but the morality is questionable in some places.


Tom Sawyer is a clever, mischievous boy, who is constantly getting into trouble for his disobedience and pranks. In this story, he courts the pretty Becky, runs away from home and witnesses a murder.


Tom chronically lies, disobeys and steals from the adults around him. They repeatedly tell him that his behavior is wrong but Tom doesn't seem to care about their advice very much.
However, Tom has a good heart and a conscience that reproaches him whenever he sees that his actions have seriously hurt someone. At one point, he takes the blame for something that Becky did and is whipped in her place. Moreover, throughout the story he has to make some very difficult moral choices and definitely grows as a character. He doesn't reform completely but he does grow to care about others much more.

Spiritual Content

Most characters attend Sunday school and church. Most believe in God and God's judgment. Although Tom believes in God and once, prays for forgiveness, he also places a lot of faith in superstitions and spells. For example, he believes that saying certain spells will make warts go away and that the barking of a dog means someone's death.


Tom gets into various fights with other boys and usually ends up beating them up.
There is a murder in a graveyard. It isn't terribly graphic but is scary all the same. Later, Tom has nightmares in which the murderer comes after him.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Tom and Huck try smoking. They both feel sick but apparently, don't learn anything from the experience because they later show off their smoking "skills" to other boys.
The man who is accused of murder is a drunkard.

Sexual Content

The schoolmaster keeps an anatomy book in his desk and Becky sneaks in to look at the pictures. She feels terribly guilty about it though.
Tom persuades Becky to kiss him on the lips. The way she finally gives in to Tom's demands is somewhat troubling but they never kiss again after that.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

The slang of that time is used by Tom and Huck. A bad character makes references to the devil.


Mark Twain's writing, the humour and the suspense make this a very interesting novel. But while Tom makes certain admirable moral choices, many other moral issues (such as stealing and smoking) are made light of and this might be a good thing to discuss with the kids who read this book.

Fun Score: 5
Values Score: 4
Written for Age: 11-12

Review Rating:

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