Twain explains that the novel's characters are based on people he knew "growing up thirty or forty years ago." The superstitions they hold are also based on those of the author's boyhood friends and the slaves they knew.
By claiming the story is based on his own life, Twain asserts that the depiction of the town is realistic, and thus his satire of it is a satire of the real world.
While the novel is intended for young readers, Twain hopes that adults will enjoy it, as it will remind them of they once thought, spoke, and acted.
There are lessons to be learned from the perspectives and insights of children.