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11. An idyll is a composition in poetry or prose that paints a scene or episode, especially in country life, as one of tranquil happiness. Twain's portrait of St. Petersburg-the Hannibal of his youth-is very much an idyll, painted by a man looking back to his childhood across the span of thirty years. The first paragraph of Chapter 2 sets the stage for such a portrait, describing "the summer world... a song in every heart... a Delectable Land" of Cardiff Hill. Another day opens in Chapter 4 with the sun rising "upon a tranquil world."
Tragedies and near-tragedies do occur in this idyll, of course: a murder, a framing, a death by starvation, a drowning, the near death of Becky and Tom and the attempted disfigurement of Mrs. Douglas. However, Twain's treatment of these episodes takes the threat and the horror out of them.
Vanity and vindictiveness exist in St. Petersburg, but they are presented with indulgence-with a wink that renders them harmless. Tom lies, cheats, shows off, fights, and steals. But the narrator's tolerant attitude-boys, after all, will be boys-places these acts in a neutral moral zone. Despite the violence and the genuinely terrifying moments in the cave, all ends happily, with the town in peace-surely an idyllic ending.
12. Though Twain doesn't focus on it, a class system does exist in St. Petersburg, and it determines the villagers' attitudes toward one another. At the top of the social ladder are such notables as Mrs. Douglas and Judge Thatcher. At the bottom are the outcasts: Injun Joe, the half-breed; Jim and Uncle Jake, slaves, and Muff Potter and Huckleberry Finn, who sleep and eat wherever they can. Tom Sawyer, who has two sets of clothes, is somewhere in between: a member of St. Petersburg's poor but respectable middle class.
Class determines attitude in St. Petersburg. Respectable parents forbid their children to associate with Huck Finn. Most, like Polly and Mrs. Douglas, keep slaves. Injun Joe is scorned and turned away from Dr. Robinson's door. In Chapter 27, Tom admits he "does not care to have Huck's company in public places."
There's a hierarchy even among the outcasts. The slaves are at the bottom of the bottom. Huck is embarrassed to say he ate with Uncle Jake. Joe is irate that he was whipped "like a nigger."
It is possible to move from rung to rung on St. Petersburg's social ladder. Through courage and imagination, Tom raises himself to the top, winning Becky's heart and her parents' approval. Huck's share of the treasure raises him a couple of notches, against his will. In St. Petersburg, money and celebrity bring status, and in the end, the boys have a great deal of all three.
13. Tom is educated, romantic, and imaginative. Huck is uneducated and matter-of-fact, and although he enjoys playing pirate and robber-romantic pursuits to a boy-he is not imaginative enough to think these games up by himself. When Tom and Joe invite Huck to become a pirate, "he joined them promptly, for all careers were one to him; he was indifferent."
Huck defers to Tom's superior knowledge of piracy, treasure- hunting, and robbers. In this he is Tom's foil, reminding you of the distance between the two in social class and education. In Chapter 10, Huck is "filled with admiration" for Tom's writing ability. In Chapter 35, he falls for Tom's ploy about the need for Huck to be respectable if he is to join Tom Sawyer's gang.
Tom is the leader, Huck the follower. Each acts as a foil for the other, showing, by contrast, the ways each boy's character differs from the other's. These contrasts extend to their maturity. In some ways, Huck is more "worldly," and experienced than the civilized Tom. Huck teaches Tom to smoke making him sick. In addition, Huck's independence is a reminder, to you and to Tom, of just how constrained by civilization the rest of St. Petersburg's citizens are.
14. Tom moves from childishness to maturity in each of the four story lines. He begins his courtship of Becky by showing off "in all sorts of absurd boyish ways in order to win her admiration" (Chapter 3). Later, he takes her whipping (Chapter 20) and rescues her from the cave (Chapter 32). The Muff Potter episode begins with a superstitious trip to the graveyard (Chapter 9) and ends with Tom's courageous appearance in court (Chapter 23). The Jackson's Island story begins with Tom's feeling sorry for himself (Chapter 13); it ends with his apology to Polly for his "mean and shabby" joke (Chapter 19). Tom and Huck's aimless digging for treasure (Chapter 25) starts them on the way to solving the mystery of Injun Joe's disappearance. By the end of that story (Chapter 35), Tom has become a spokesman, to Huck, for the ways of civilization.