The world of Tom Sawyer, both that of the character and of the novel which bears his name, is a world dominated by fences; the neat, straight palings that surround the Widow Dougla's property, the fence around the Teacher house over which the lovestick Tom gazes longingly after Becky, and all the other upright boundaries delineating St. Petersburg respectability. As the central icon of the novel, Aunt Polly's white-washed fence appropriately represents the care and maintenance of order to which the town is committed, an order upon which both Tom and his story depend. Although Twain first identifies St. Petersburg as a poor, shabby, frontier village, it is far from defenseless in its confrontations either with shabbiness or wilderness. Well ordered by its fences and undergirded, like Tom's story, by the central institutions of civil and cultural order — the court, the school, the church — it is a society where things have been assigned their proper places and where the primary function of the St. Petersburg elect is to tend those places. This is a world overseen by guardians and Sunday superintendents, schoolmastes, and judges, authorities who, if sometimes mistaken, or even slightly absurd, are essentially benign and nearly always reliable. Thus it is that the minister, praying for the community's children, does so in the context of a hierarchy of responsibility that from country officials to the President of the United States, an ordering presence that, among other reassuring work, is to guarantee the well-being of the young. As though to provide the fullest representation of this benevolent system, Missouri's most important senator, Thomas Hart Benton, makes a cameo appearance in the novel, albeit one in which he is judged of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer as a book about boyish freedom, it affirms at every turn an order of the most conventional sort and depends upon that order for the version of boyhood it depicts.