Setting Analysis | The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is set in the town of St. Petersburg, Missouri, sometime around the middle of the nineteenth century. St. Petersburg is small, but it’s got everything a boy could want: lush forests, a wide river, an island perfect for playing pirates, and caves perfect for getting lost in. It’s got your standard issue small-town stuff: a church, a courthouse, a schoolhouse, etc., but it’s got a spooky side too, complete with an eerie graveyard, a “Temperance tavern” selling bootleg liquor, and a haunted house.

The author visually described the setting of the story creating an image in the minds of the readers. He introduces it in a very detailed manner and featured the scenery with the use of the senses.

“SATURDAY morning was come, and all the summer world was bright and fresh, and brimming with life. There was a song in every heart; and if the heart was young the music issued at the lips. There was cheer in every face and a spring in every step. The locust-trees were in bloom and the fragrance of the blossoms filled the air. The village was green with vegetation and it lay just far enough away to seem a Delectable Land, dreamy, reposeful, and inviting”

The setting reveals that you can’t call something an adventure if you have not experienced twists and turns in the story. As the setting varies from a paradise-looking place to a fear-looking place, it shows that adventures do take on different situations which reveal more of the character’s personality, abilities, talents, and even weaknesses.

The setting also gives information about the situation or character. Just like when Tom and Huck went to the graveyard to do some ritual about Huck’s cat which he believed that it would cure his warts. The atmosphere of the setting gives off the idea that something bad might happen in the place where, indeed, Dr. Robinson was killed.

In terms of the characters’ revelation, when Huck and Tom went to a haunted house to look for a lost treasure, it showed the characters’ willingness to take risks in order to achieve their goal and the courage they have to enter on such a spooky place.

This element of the story also influences the characters’ actions. In the setting of a Church, children try to behave themselves and study verses in order for them to get the Bible prize. The setting wherein Tom and his friends went to an island made them do some pirate adventure and enjoy their selves out as being on an island gives the atmosphere of having a vacation or recreation. These are just some of the influences as every scene in the story makes the characters act accordingly.

It also contributes to the theme of how a child should freely live and grow as the setting varies comes a different adventure for Tom in which he acquires knowledge and experience new things wherein he has to decide and do something. It also shows how he could handle other characters in the story given the situation and how such actions lead to a particular outcome every time.