OF THE BABY NAME SAWYER
Speaking of Mark Twain, Becky Thatcher is his creation out of the pages of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, published in 1876. She is the daughter of the wealthy Judge Thatcher, quite the little aristocrat in Tom’s eyes, and he falls in love with her at first sight. She is an enchanting little girl with long blonde hair and definite opinions. Tom wins her heart for good when he takes the blame for a misdeed of her making, and sustains a whipping for it. Becky Thatcher’s character was based upon a real little girl Samuel Clemens attended school with in Hannibal, Missouri – Laura Hawkins. (When the humorist became famous, at least twenty-five women claimed to have been the model for Becky, but Mr. Clemens named Miss Hawkins.)
Tom Sawyer is the young hero of Mark Twain’s 1876 classic, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and one of the most beloved characters in American literature. Rosy-cheeked, barefoot and mischievous, he embodies boyhood in another time, another place. He inspires nostalgia in us for an era we never knew; he makes us feel as if we did. His adventures include the famous fence whitewashing, the escape from McDougal’s cave, his courtship of Becky Thatcher, the appearance at his own “funeral”, the murder in the cemetery and the escape and demise of Injun Joe. More important than the episodic tales of his derring-do, however, is the evolution of a young boy into a young man in the making. We can see that he will be the type of young man who will honor the moral code being taught by Aunt Polly, and who at the same time will maintain a lively questioning mind about the veracity of some of society’s operating standards. The next most important thing about Tom Sawyer is that he introduces us to Huck Finn.
Joe Harper is Tom Sawyer’s “bosom friend” in Mark Twain’s 1876 classic, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Joe is a typical young boy of the rural South of the 1840s. He and Tom share a united goal: to have adventures, and they are mighty successful at it. Feeling underappreciated and chore-ridden, the boys run away (with Huck Finn) to become pirates on a nearby island. Their illegal fun consists of swimming, rafting, fishing, and exploring. With their grief-stricken families preparing for their funerals, Joe and the boys return home to great rejoicing. Joe Harper’s family background appears to be a little more conventional than Tom’s (and certainly than Huck’s!), and Joe eventually fades into the background of the tale, as Huck takes a more active role. Twain acknowledged that Joe Harper was based upon a schoolroom friend of his, John Briggs, and he is affectionately given the moniker “Terror of the Seas” by a fond Twain.