Mood

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

by

Mark Twain

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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Mood 1 key example

Definition of Mood
The mood of a piece of writing is its general atmosphere or emotional complexion—in short, the array of feelings the work evokes in the reader. Every aspect of a piece of writing... read full definition
The mood of a piece of writing is its general atmosphere or emotional complexion—in short, the array of feelings the work evokes in the reader. Every aspect... read full definition
The mood of a piece of writing is its general atmosphere or emotional complexion—in short, the array of feelings the work evokes... read full definition
Chapter 2
Explanation and Analysis:

The mood of Tom Sawyer is, overall, quite cheerful and lighthearted. Readers take pleasure in hearing about Tom’s various adventures and hijinks and, much like Aunt Polly, find themselves too taken with him to be able to judge him harshly for his charming (yet sometimes manipulative) antics.

That said, the mood shifts dramatically over the course of the novel, in line with Tom’s maturation process. In the early chapters—before Tom has started to engage with tough moral questions—the mood is extremely jovial. This passage from Chapter 2 is a good example:

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.

There is no mistaking the hyperbolic language here (“all the summer world was bright and fresh,” “cheer in every face,” etc.)—Twain wants readers to see the world through the eyes of a boy who is completely carefree.

When Tom reaches the climax of his various adventures and faces genuine threats, however, the mood becomes more serious. This is true when he grows weary of living on Jackson’s Island, when he is running from Injun Joe’s wrath, and when he is trapped in the cave with Becky. During the scene in the cave in Chapter 31, the mood is scary and threatening:

Profound silence; silence so deep that even their breathings were conspicuous in the hush. Tom shouted. The call went echoing down the empty aisles and died out in the distance in a faint sound that resembled a ripple of mocking laughter.

The “profound silence,” “empty aisles,” and “mocking laughter” all communicate to readers that this is not a game anymore—these two children are in serious danger and could die if they don’t find a way out (which they luckily do).

By the end of the novel, the mood is cheerful once again as Tom ends up rich and well-respected; as Twain writes, he is “courted" and "admired” everywhere he goes and ends up “prosperous and happy.”

Chapter 31
Explanation and Analysis:

The mood of Tom Sawyer is, overall, quite cheerful and lighthearted. Readers take pleasure in hearing about Tom’s various adventures and hijinks and, much like Aunt Polly, find themselves too taken with him to be able to judge him harshly for his charming (yet sometimes manipulative) antics.

That said, the mood shifts dramatically over the course of the novel, in line with Tom’s maturation process. In the early chapters—before Tom has started to engage with tough moral questions—the mood is extremely jovial. This passage from Chapter 2 is a good example:

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.

There is no mistaking the hyperbolic language here (“all the summer world was bright and fresh,” “cheer in every face,” etc.)—Twain wants readers to see the world through the eyes of a boy who is completely carefree.

When Tom reaches the climax of his various adventures and faces genuine threats, however, the mood becomes more serious. This is true when he grows weary of living on Jackson’s Island, when he is running from Injun Joe’s wrath, and when he is trapped in the cave with Becky. During the scene in the cave in Chapter 31, the mood is scary and threatening:

Profound silence; silence so deep that even their breathings were conspicuous in the hush. Tom shouted. The call went echoing down the empty aisles and died out in the distance in a faint sound that resembled a ripple of mocking laughter.

The “profound silence,” “empty aisles,” and “mocking laughter” all communicate to readers that this is not a game anymore—these two children are in serious danger and could die if they don’t find a way out (which they luckily do).

By the end of the novel, the mood is cheerful once again as Tom ends up rich and well-respected; as Twain writes, he is “courted" and "admired” everywhere he goes and ends up “prosperous and happy.”

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