The things about me and before me made me feel like a boy again – convinced me that I was a boy again, and that I had simply been dreaming an unusually long dream . . .
– Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi
I thought I saw the ghost of Mark Twain in Hannibal, Missouri. Then I realized the white statue of him in the other room of the museum (Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum) was reflected in the plexiglass of the room across the hall. You can even see Tom Sawyer crawling out of the window.
Only Tom Sawyer was never real and Mark Twain was a real person. A real person who dreamed of Tom Sawyer and wrote books about him.
Mark Twain wasn’t his real name; he was “really” Samuel Clemens. And even though his popular literary character Tom Sawyer is a total fiction, you can visit places in Hannibal Missouri where Tom Sawyer “lived” – such as the cave Tom hid in or the fence Tom and his friends painted.
The sign outside of the museum says : “Tom Sawyer’s Fence. Here stood the board fence which Tom Sawyer persuaded his gang to pay him for the privilege of whitewashing. Tom sat by and saw that it was well done.” The sign draws us into a virtual world without even asking permission.
Literary critics say Tom Sawyer’s life is Mark Twain’s own recollections of himself in his boyhood. In that case Tom is as real as Mark, since both of them are gone but remembered from past events, and the stories we know of them.