Group C Mess: Calm vs Aggressive

Last week, the binary calm vs aggressive was introduced in relation to how Aunt Polly treats Tom. Perhaps she has a difficult time being aggressive towards him since his mother, her sister, died.

However, this binary is challenged in chapter 24 with the quote:

‘No, I don’t dare. Poor boy, I reckon he’s lied about it — but it’s a blessed, blessed lie, there’s such a comfort come from it. I hope the Lord — I KNOW the Lord will forgive him, because it was such goodheartedness in him to tell it. But I don’t want to find out it’s a lie. I won’t look.’

When Tom tells Aunt Polly about the bark in his pocket he never gave her, she doesn’t believe him. The calm vs aggressive binary assumes that Aunt Polly is always acting as the adult and Tom is always acting as the child. It suggests she is constantly acting in reaction to Tom. But, it’s not that she is either acting calmly or aggressively towards him. In this example she doesn’t necessarily take into account his mother’s death, she is just taking into account whether or not he is acting morally. She acts ambivalent towards him when he tells her about the bark, because she doesn’t believe him. Yet, she is secretly pleading for him to be telling the truth. She goes from acting ambivalently towards him to grateful behind his back.

Twain, Mark, and Jean Craighead George. “XXIV.” The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. New York: Scholastic, 1999. Print