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Google's Mark Twain Birthday Logo Features Tom Sawyer Getting Out Of Painting That Fence

It’s perhaps one of my favorite special Google logos ever, one honoring the 176th birthday of American novelist Mark Twain, the pen name of Samuel Clemens. It shows the classic scene from The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer, where Tom gets someone else to paint his Aunt Polly’s white picket fence.

It’s Wide!

It is also perhaps the widest of the special logos — or doodles, as Google calls them — that the company has ever done. The entire thing nearly stretches across the width of my 2560×1440 monitor:

A Scene, In Three Parts

Closer up, we see the scene playing out in three panels:

On the left, there’s Tom convincing Ben Rogers to whitewash the fence. As Ben’s already got the brush in hand, so we’re coming into the story after Tom’s done his convincing.

Painting Ain’t Work!

From the book:

“Say—I’m going in a swimming, / am. Don’t you wish you could? But of course you’d druther work—wouldn’t you? Course you would!”

Tom contemplated the boy a bit, and said:

“What do you call work?” “Why ain’t that work?”

Tom resumed his whitewashing, and answered carelessly:

“Well, maybe it is, and maybe it aint. All I know, is, it suits Tom Sawyer.”

“Oh come, now, you don’t mean to let on that you like it?”

The brush continued to move. “Like it? Well I don’t see why I oughtn’t to like it. Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?”

That put the thing in a new light. Ben stopped nibbling his apple. Tom swept his brush daintily back and forth—stepped back to note the effect —added a touch here and there—criticised the effect again—Ben watching every move and getting more and more interested, more and more absorbed. Presently he said:

“Say, Tom, let me whitewash a little.”

Tom considered, was about to consent; but he altered his mind:

“No—no—I reckon it wouldn’t hardly do, Ben. You see, Aunt Polly’s awful particular about this fence—right here on the street, you know—but if it was the back fence I wouldn’t mind and she wouldn’t. Yes, she’s awful particular about this fence; it’s got to be done very careful; I reckon there ain’t one boy in a thousand, maybe two thousand, that can do it the way it’s got to be done.

“No—is that so? Oh come, now—lemme just try. Only just a little—I’d let you, if you was me, Tom.”

“Ben, I’d like to, honest injun; but Aunt Polly—well Jim wanted to do it, but she wouldn’t let him; Sid wanted to do it, and she wouldn’t let Sid. Now don’t you see how I’m fixed? If you was to tackle this fence and anything was to happen to it—”

“Oh, shucks, I’ll be just as careful. Now lemme try. Say—I’ll give you the core of my apple.”

“Well, here—. No, Ben, now don’t. I’m afeard—”

“I’ll give you all of it!”

Tom gave up the brush with reluctance in his face but alacrity in his heart.

Munching That Apple

The second panel features the Google logo itself being painted on the fence while Tom eats a little more than the core of an apple he got out of Ben, which is still pretty keeping with the story.

As the passage continues, from the book:

And while the late steamer “Big Missouri” worked and sweated in the sun, the retired artist sat on a barrel in the shade close by, dangled his legs, munched his apple, and planned the slaughter of more innocents.

Tom Makes Out Well

In the final panel, Tom gives an exhausted Ben a big thumbs up, for finishing. Here, some artistic license is being taken.

Tom actually convinced a variety of boys to paint the fence — and got them all to give up things like marbles and fire crackers for the privilege of doing so.

The passage continues:

There was no lack of material; boys happened along every little while; they came to jeer, but remained to whitewash.

By the time Ben was fagged out, Tom had traded the next chance to Billy Fisher for a kite, in good repair; and when he played out, Johnny Miller bought in for a dead rat and a string to swing it with—and so on, and so on, hour after hour.

And when the middle of the afternoon came, from being a poor poverty-stricken boy in the morning, Tom was literally rolling in wealth.

He had beside the things before mentioned, twelve marbles, part of a jews-harp, a piece of blue bottle-glass to look through, a spool cannon, a key that wouldn’t unlock anything, a fragment of chalk, a glass stopper of a decanter, a tin soldier, a couple of tadpoles, six fire-crackers, a kitten with only one eye, a brass door-knob, a dog-collar—but no dog—the handle of a knife, four pieces of orange-peel, and a dilapidated old window-sash.

Download Tom Sawyer For Free

If you’ve never read The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer, now’s as good as time as any. The entire text is free for download here from Google Books. It’s a pity the logo didn’t link over to that!


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