I never did like Tom Sawyer. He’s a second rate figure against Huck Finn. His story’s no match for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and when he comes into that great book he ruins the end.
Today’s Tom Sawyer is Donald Trump*.
Tom’s best known for the art of the con. He cons the boys of St. Petersburg into doing his dirty work and paying him for it in the bargain. Sap can’t remember a single line from the Bible, instead trading loot for tickets to win the Sunday School prize—and the attentions of Judge Thatcher, father of his beloved.
Turning to which… There I am, reading Twain’s classic to my eight year old. He’s totally into it. He loves the voice, the heavy Hannibal 19th century accent, so rich and full of color. Then we hit Tom’s seduction of Becky Thatcher in Chapter 7. Becky wants to know more about being engaged.
Becky hesitating, Tom took silence for consent, and passed his arm about her waist and whispered the tale ever so softly, with his mouth close to her ear. And then he added:
“Now you whisper it to me—just the same.”
She resisted, for a while, and then said:
“You turn your face away so you can’t see, and then I will. But you mustn’t ever tell anybody—WILL you, Tom? Now you won’t, WILL you?”
“No, indeed, indeed I won’t. Now, Becky.”
He turned his face away. She bent timidly around till her breath stirred his curls and whispered, “I—love—you!”
Then she sprang away and ran around and around the desks and benches, with Tom after her, and took refuge in a corner at last, with her little white apron to her face. Tom clasped her about her neck and pleaded:
“Now, Becky, it’s all done—all over but the kiss. Don’t you be afraid of that—it ain’t anything at all. Please, Becky.” And he tugged at her apron and the hands.
By and by she gave up, and let her hands drop; her face, all glowing with the struggle, came up and submitted. Tom kissed the red lips…
There it is. Tom Sawyer, like the Republican presidential candidate: con man. Glory-seeker. Rapacious predator.
*To acknowledge an earlier post in which I likened DJT to Roald Dahl’s dishonest, intellectually-depraved used car salesman.
For the sake of bi-partisanship, I also assigned HRC her own literary forebear. Surprise! Not Nurse Ratched.