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The Misconceptions of Common Sense

By Mariah Neuhauser

We read Tom Sawyer because it’s important to know what life was like before
common sense. It’s mandatory to learn from our past mistakes. Their common sense was
severely misconstrued, and it’s not much different from nowadays, as racism still exists.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer just goes to show how easily people made
generalizations.

It’s important to learn from our former prejudices. Tom and Huck used a
derogative term for Joe because of his skin color. Joe called himself that term as well
because, at that time, they didn’t know what “racist” meant, or even was. Now, we’ve
looked back upon our culture’s mistakes. Some of us haven’t changed, while most of us
have come a long way to show that we’ve overcome our regrets.

Their common sense was misconstrued. The main characters jumped to


conclusions too quickly, without looking over and evaluating the facts. Tom and Huck
were very superstitious, believing that a dead cat would cure their warts. Although, the
dead cat brought on a suspenseful turn of events, such as the witnessing of the murder of
Doc, leading to the framing of Muff Potter, and to the heroism of Tom in the court room.
The sense of common sense back then had little sense at all.

The book illustrates how similar our culture, and Tom’s culture, are today. There
is still racism nowadays, and a lot of it; no one just cares to admit it. Everyday, in every
town, you’ll always see a few groups of people that stay stationary to their own people,
because they either feel that they are superior to others because of their race, or because
they feel inferior to the races of others. Joe was a minority in the book, as Twain failed to
mention other Native Americans, foreshadowing Joe as the only one of “his kind” in their
area. In the 1800’s, racism was more openly expressed, now, it’s more sly, cunning, and
subtle, but it still exists. Slavery may be abolished, but racism will always here, but it’ll
be more hidden.

I cannot say whether I like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, or whether I do not
like it. I can say that some portions of the book were flawed, as they only showed one
side – the White side – of the story. They failed to look at the other perspective, in this
case, Joe’s. How did he feel about the racist remarks, derogative comments, and
prejudicial actions that he received? I think that very aspect of the story is biased and
racist against both races – Native American and Caucasian – because they show how
much bigotry there was against Native Americans, and they also showed how the concept
of common sense, in the Caucasians’ case, was severely flawed. There should have been
two sides to this story, only then could I really enjoy it.