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Who is Widow Doulgas in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer?

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graceichang | Student, Grade 8 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted May 11, 2013 at 11:58 PM via web

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Who is Widow Doulgas in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 12, 2013 at 2:44 AM (Answer #1)

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A novel constructed of a series of comic vignettes, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer does have one thread that runs through these separate vignettes: the story of the villainous Injun Joe, who is connected to the story of Widow Douglas. 

In Chapter 27, Huck and Tom are inside a haunted house when they hear men entering. To their surprise, one of them is a disguised Injun Joe, who has secretly returned after having fled the trial of Muff Potter, who has been falsely arrested for the death of Dr. Robinson. Joe has come back to town in order to seek revenge, he tells his partner in the house. 

In Chapter 29, Tom and Huck have worried that Injun Joe wants revenge upon them for exposing him as the murderer of Dr. Robinson. They are attentive to any reappearance of this villain. They watch the tavern until Tom tells Huck to run for cover; then, they run into a slaughterhouse and nearly trip over a drunken Injun Joe. So, they agree that Huck will keep watch and see where Injun Joe goes.

In the next chapter, Tom and Becky, who have stayed with the Widow Douglas and the other children attend a picnic and run in and out of the caves until the ferry carries them home. Meanwhile, Huck is on his watch of the house; suddenly, he hears a noise and sees the men. Stealing catlike behind them, Huck follows until he realizes they are close to the house of Widow Douglas. With chills, Huck hears the voice of the other miscreant who was in the haunted house with Injun Joe, "...maybe she's got company--there's lights, late as it is." Now, Huck realizes Widow Douglas is the intended victim of the "revenge job." Injun Joe explains to the other man,

...her husband ws rough on me...and mainly he was the justice of the peace that jugged me for a vagrant....He had me horsewhipped!--horsewhipped in front of the jail, like a n---r!--with all the town looking on!....But I'll take it out on her."


The other begs him not to kill the widow; however, Injun Joe has not intended to do so. He replies that revenge upon a woman is to ruin her looks; so, he is going to slit her nostrils and "notch her ears like a sow!"

Huck hurries to the Welshman's place and informs him of what he has overheard. Three minutes later, the man and his sons hurried up the hill, well armed. In a short time, Huck hears "an explosion of firearms and a cry." The next day, Huck visits the Welshman and hears the full story. When some people arrive, Widow Douglas is among them. In gratitude, she takes in Huck and clothes and feeds him. But, to Huck's chagrin, his fortune and his position with the widow establish him as a member of society and he is forced to eat with a knife and fork and act civilized. But, one day he is missing. However, Tom soon finds him; Huck tells his friend,

"The widder's good to me, and friendly, but I can't stand them ways....I got to wear shoes all Sunday. The widder eats by a bell; she goes to bed by a bell; she gits up by a bell—everything's so awful reg'lar a body can't stand it.”

Tom promises to ask the widow to give Huck an easier time. 

The Widow Douglas is also in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Huck lives with her until a judge gives Huck's worthless father custody of him. When he is able, Huck runs off. 

 

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