Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Tom Sawyer lives securely with the knowledge that his Aunt Polly loves him dearly. When she scolds him or whips him, he knows that inside her breast lurks a hidden remorse. Often he deserves the punishment he receives, but there are times when he is the victim of his tattletale half brother, Sid. Tom’s cousin Mary is kinder to him. Her worst duty toward him is to see to it that he washes and puts on clean clothes, so that he will look respectable when Aunt Polly takes the children to Sunday school.
When a new family moves into town, Tom sees a pretty, blue-eyed girl with lacy pantalettes. Instantly the fervent love he has felt for Amy Lawrence flees from his faithless bosom, replaced by devotion to this new girl. At Sunday school, Tom learns that her name is Becky Thatcher. She is in school the next day, sitting on the girls’ side of the room with an empty seat beside her. Tom comes late to school that morning. When the schoolmaster asks Tom why he is late, the empty seat beside Becky catches his eye. Recklessly he confesses he stopped to talk with Huckleberry Finn, son of the town drunk. Huck wears cast-off clothing, never attends school, smokes and fishes as often as he pleases, and sleeps wherever he can. For associating with Huckleberry Finn, Tom is whipped by the schoolmaster and ordered to sit on the girls’ side of the room. Amid the snickers of the entire class, he takes the empty seat next to Becky.
Tom first attracts Becky’s...
(The entire section is 1501 words.)
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Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is Twain’s finest study of a boy’s character and his best novel, but it is The Adventures of Tom Sawyer that is the more popular boy’s tale with the public. Its simplicity, lack of psychological density, and single-minded celebration of the joys of childhood are the reasons for its attraction and the affection with which it is remembered by adults who have not read it for years and never intend to read it again. It is the American dream of ideal childhood written with unmitigated joy.
Much of its success lies with Tom, a child of lively curiosity with a mildly anarchic personality and an imagination fueled by reading (and often misreading) everything from fairy tales to the classics. He is also a boy capable of disarming affection. His relationship with Aunt Polly, swinging as it does between angry frustration and tears of loving joy, is one of the memorable child-adult confrontations in literature. For all of his strutting imitations of maleness, he has no inhibitions in his courting of Becky Thatcher. Twain has a rather crude way with feelings, but in Tom he found a character who acts out his emotions with a comic bravado that often saves the book from falling into sentimental excess.
The Tom Sawyer confidence tricks are part of the folklore of American life. The famous fence-painting game has developed a life of its own that goes beyond the novel. Tom’s systematic accumulation of...
(The entire section is 899 words.)
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer depicts the life of an imaginative, troublesome boy in the American West of the 1840s. The novel is intensely dramatic in its construction, taking the form of a series of comic vignettes based on Tom's exploits. These vignettes are linked together by a darker story that grows in importance throughout the novel—Tom's life-threatening entanglement with the murderer Injun Joe.
The novel opens with a stern Aunt Polly searching for her nephew Tom in order to punish him. The reader, also looking for Tom, is introduced to the basic elements of his life—exploits and punishments. Aunt Polly finds Tom, and he and his half-brother Sid are presented to readers as contrasting versions of boyhood. Tom is the prototypical appealing bad boy while Sid is the obnoxious goodie-goodie. The reader is on Tom's side from this point onward.
The story moves through a series of chapter-length vignettes featuring Tom and his richly imaginative life. These include the most famous scene in the novel, and arguably the most famous scene in American literature—whitewashing the fence. Sentenced to repaint Aunt Polly's fence, Tom is desperate to get out of it by any means necessary. He spends the day persuading a series of local boys that whitewashing is fun. This "reverse-psychology" is so convincing that the boys not only beg to take over, they actually bribe him with their most treasured possessions. At the...
(The entire section is 1333 words.)
Chapter 1 Summary
As Tom Sawyer begins, Tom’s aunt, Polly, calls his name. She looks all over her house and yard, but she cannot find him. When he finally appears, she realizes that he has been in the closet eating jam he was not supposed to touch. She gets out a switch to whip him for disobeying—but at the last moment before she strikes, Tom tells her to watch out behind her. As soon as she turns to look, he runs out the door and hops over the fence.
Aunt Polly laughs to herself and puts the switch away. She tells herself that Tom will not grow up properly if she continues to let him get away with everything he does wrong. But he is her dear sister’s son, and she “ain’t got the heart to lash him somehow.” She resolves to punish him tomorrow by making him work all day.
That afternoon, Tom skips school to go swimming. Aunt Polly suspects this, so she checks his shirt collar, which she sewed shut in the morning. When she finds it still sewed, she is “half glad that Tom [has] stumbled into obedient conduct for once.” But Sid, Tom’s half-brother, points out that Aunt Polly sewed the shirt with white thread, whereas it is now sewn with black. Once again, Tom runs out the door to avoid punishment. As he leaves, he threatens to beat Sid up when he returns.
Outside, Tom soon forgets his troubles. Remembering that he has just learned to whistle, he struts down the street practicing. He meets a new boy—a rare and fascinating sight in his small town. The boy is dressed up in a dainty cap and expensive clothes, just as if it is Sunday. He is even wearing shoes. Tom takes in this “finery” and decides that he and this boy will be enemies. By way of introduction, Tom says, “I can lick you!” The boy dares him to try, but Tom just teases. When the boy demands to know why he does not make good on his threat, Tom says, “By jingoes, for two cents I will do it.” The boy pulls two pennies out of his pocket and offers them. This arrogance is too much for Tom, who slaps the coins to the ground and provides the "licking" he promised.
When the fight is over, with Tom the clear winner, the new boy runs home crying. Tom follows and lingers by the gate, teasing. When he finally goes home, it is late, so he sneaks in through the window. Unfortunately, he finds Aunt Polly waiting for him in his room. When she sees how dirty his clothes are, she renews her resolve to make Tom spend his Saturday doing...
(The entire section is 461 words.)
Chapter 2 Summary
On Saturday morning, the summer sun is out, and everything looks bright and beautiful—but all is not well in Tom’s world. Tom carries a brush and a bucket of whitewash into the yard and glumly surveys the fence. It is long and high, and Aunt Polly has said that he has to whitewash the whole thing. His life feels “hollow, and existence but a burden.” He spends a minute or two swabbing whitewash on the fence, and then, when he realizes how much he still has to do, he sits down in disgust.
Jim, the slave boy, comes out the gate with a bucket, clearly going to the pump for water. Normally Tom hates carrying water , but now he thinks Jim’s job is much better than his own. He asks to trade, but Jim says that Polly threatened to whip him if he did. Tom dismisses this threat, saying that Aunt Polly “never licks anybody.” He offers Jim a marble to sweeten the deal, and Jim—who is “only human”—hesitantly reaches out to take it. But Aunt Polly has guessed that something of this sort might happen. She leaps onto the scene and smacks Jim on the rear with her slipper. Jim grabs his bucket and flees toward the pump. Tom reluctantly returns to whitewashing.
As Tom works, he thinks sadly of all the wonderful games he is missing. He well knows that the other boys will soon come along and laugh at him for being stuck with work. He pulls all his treasures out of his pockets—“bits of toys, marbles, and trash”—but he has to admit that none are valuable enough to buy any help from his friends. Then, “at this dark and hopeless moment,” he has a wonderful idea. He picks up his brush and begins to work, this time giving the task his full attention.
Quite soon Ben Rogers appears, munching an apple and pretending to be a steamboat. Tom works steadily at his whitewashing. Ben beeps and whistles for a while, and then he stops to say how awful it must be to be stuck with a chore. Now Tom looks up, pretending he is only just noticing that Ben is there. Acting surprised that Ben would call his current activity “work,” Tom claims that he is excited to have a chance to whitewash a fence. After all, how often does a kid get a chance to do such an unusual task?
After thinking this over for a moment, Ben asks if he can take a turn. Tom pretends to consider, and then he refuses, claiming that Aunt Polly will only allow an expert to whitewash her fence. This makes Ben even more eager to help. He offers...
(The entire section is 578 words.)
Chapter 3 Summary
In the early afternoon, Tom approaches Aunt Polly, who is dozing over her knitting. She is surprised to see him, because she secretly suspected that he would sneak away and leave his chore unfinished. When he says he is done, she does not believe it. However, when she sees that the fence is covered with several coats of whitewash, she is thrilled. Not only does she tell Tom that he can go out to play; she also rewards him with an apple. When she gives it to him, she delivers “an improving lecture” about how treats taste better when they are earned “through virtuous effort.” During this speech, Tom steals a doughnut.
Free from work for the rest of the day, Tom pelts Sid with dirt clods to get revenge for the yesterday's tattling incident. Then Tom runs to the public square, where boys are lined up to fight a battle. He is general of one of the armies, and his friend Joe Harper is the general of the other. They stand to one side giving orders while the two armies fight. When all is finished, the two sides count their dead, agree upon “the terms of the next disagreement,” and set the date for the next battle.
On his way home, Tom sees a new girl in his friend Jeff Thatcher’s garden. She is beautiful, with bright blue eyes, and Tom promptly falls in love. He stares at her until she notices him, and then he shows off with feats of gymnastics. She pretends not to watch, but when she goes inside she throws a pansy to him. He does not want to be seen with it, so he picks it up with his toes and runs around the corner to pin it beneath his shirt. Then he returns to her gate and shows off until dark, hoping she might see him through a window.
At dinner that night, Sid breaks the sugar bowl while Aunt Polly is out of the room. Tom is gleefully imagining Sid's punishment when Aunt Polly comes in, assumes that Tom is guilty of the crime, and smacks him instead. When he informs Aunt Polly of her mistake, she wants to apologize, but she does not feel it would be good discipline. She says that Tom probably deserved the smack “for some other owdacious mischief.”
After this incident, Tom spends the whole evening feeling sorry for himself. Aunt Polly is so sorry that she is on the point of tears, but Tom does not forgive her. He slips out of the house, sniveling over the tragedy of his life. He imagines how it would be if he got sick and died. He is sure that Aunt Polly would wail over his corpse and...
(The entire section is 562 words.)
Chapter 4 Summary
On Sunday morning, Sid recites all of his Bible verses perfectly. Tom, on the other hand, has not even begun learning his. He struggles over his verses for half an hour, but he cannot recite them. His cousin Mary promises that she will give him a prize if he manages to learn his verses properly. He studies for half an hour longer, and this time he manages to recite the lesson. Mary gives him a Barlow knife—a gift that delights him greatly.
Tom plays with the knife until it is time to get ready for church. Mary sends him to wash his face, but he only pretends to obey. When Mary scolds him, he gets his face wet and soapy, but he leaves “an expanse of unirrigated soil” around his neck. Mary takes him by the hand and does the job herself. She scrubs his head and neck, combs his hair, and coaxes him into his Sunday clothes and his shoes. By the time he is ready for church, he is as uncomfortable as it is possible to be.
On the way to church, Tom trades several kids for red, blue, and yellow tickets. These tickets are part of a reward system for children who memorize Bible verses. When children have memorized two thousand verses, they receive a copy of the Bible. Mary has won two such prizes. Tom does not care much about the Bible, but he does want the attention the winners always receive.
During Sunday school, a man and woman enter the building with the beautiful girl Tom saw yesterday. The moment Tom sees her, he begins punching people, pulling hair, and making grotesque faces—“in a word, using every art that seemed likely to fascinate a girl, and win her applause.” As it turns out, the girl’s father is the great Judge Thatcher. Everyone in the whole Sunday school is proud just to be in this man's presence, and even the teachers try to show off. Mr. Walters, the Sunday school superintendent, privately wishes that one of the children could win a new Bible today. However, he knows that none of his star pupils are ready, and he is not the type of man to cheat.
At this moment, Tom Sawyer comes forward and asks for a Bible. Mr. Walters is perplexed. He knows that Tom has not memorized so many verses, but he cannot deny that the boy has enough tickets. The other boys watch jealously, cursing themselves for selling Tom their tickets, as he is congratulated before the whole church and allowed to shake Judge Thatcher’s hand. Judge Thatcher gives an elaborate speech about the importance of learning...
(The entire section is 516 words.)
Chapter 5 Summary
When Sunday school is over, the church service begins. Tom, Sid, and Mary go to sit with Aunt Polly, who places Tom by the aisle to keep his daydream-prone mind as far as possible from the window. The other church members enter, including the rich and generous Widow Douglas, the mayor and his wife, and the justice of the peace. The town’s model boy, Willie Mufferson, escorts his mother to her pew as always. Tom and the rest of the boys hate Willie because he acts perfect all the time, and because their parents always tell them to act like him.
The Reverend Mr. Sprague reads a hymn, allowing his voice to rise ever upward and then drop “as if from a spring-board” at the ends of his sentences. This is his strange habit while reading, and all the adults in town think it sounds wonderful. Ladies are always inviting him to parties, asking him to read poetry aloud, and saying that he makes it sound beautiful.
After the hymn, the minister makes a few announcements and then says a prayer. This is, as always, a “generous prayer” that includes every imaginable person, including Christians and heathens and the President of the United States and Europeans and Orientals and about a million others. Tom does not really listen, but he has the list more or less memorized. He always notices whenever Mr. Sprague makes any additions. To his mind, extra words are “unfair, and scoundrelly” because they increase the length of the ordeal.
Next comes the sermon, the longest and most boring part of the church service. Tom generally ignores the content, but today he listens for a little while because the minister talks about a lion and a lamb lying down together. Tom thinks this sounds pretty neat, but the minister’s point is lost on him. When the minister moves on to less colorful ideas, Tom loses all interest. He pulls a box out of his pocket and removes a large beetle called a “pinch-bug.” It almost immediately lives up to its name and clamps down on Tom’s finger. Tom flicks it off, and it lands on its back in the aisle.
Tom sits watching the beetle struggle unsuccessfully to turn itself over. He wishes he could go get it, but he is not allowed to move from his seat. Many other churchgoers watch with him, because they too are bored by the long sermon. Eventually a dog wanders in and begins to play with the beetle. The beetle pinches the dog on the nose, and the dog yelps in pain. A few minutes later,...
(The entire section is 508 words.)
Chapter 6 Summary
On Monday morning, Tom is very unhappy. The weekend is over, and he is feeling daunted by the prospect of a whole week of sitting still. He lies in bed thinking that it would be nice to stay home sick. He tries to convince himself he has colic, but it does not work. He feels hopeful about the pain from a loose tooth, but then he realizes that Aunt Polly will pull it out if he complains. Eventually he remembers that he has a sore toe. This seems a likely excuse, and he begins to wail in pain.
Tom lies in bed clutching his toe and howling. He begs Sid not to tell Aunt Polly that he is unwell. This frightens Sid, who fetches Aunt Polly, who comes running to see what is wrong. Tom shouts, “My sore toe’s mortified!” Aunt Polly roars with laughter, and Tom is so disconcerted that he accidentally mentions his loose tooth. Aunt Polly promptly ties the tooth to the bedpost and shoves a brand from the fire in Tom’s face. This makes him jump back, and the tooth stays behind, swinging on the string.
Tom does not get to stay home from school, but the day starts out relatively well. The new gap in his teeth allows him to spit “in a new and admirable way,” thus gaining him the respect of his peers. On the walk to school, Tom sees Huckleberry Finn, the son of the town drunk. All the mothers in town hate Huck and consider him dangerous. All the boys in town admire him and play with him every chance they get. Huck dresses in men’s cast-off clothes, which hang fluttering around him. He sleeps on doorsteps, never washes, never goes to school, and swears better than anyone else in town. In other words, he lives the perfect life.
Tom and Huck chat about the best methods for removing warts. Huck is planning to try the dead cat method, which involves saying complicated oaths over a new grave at midnight. Tom asks to go along, and Huck promises to bring him along. Then, before Tom goes on to school, he and Huck make a trade: a live tick for Tom’s tooth.
A few minutes later, Tom arrives late to school. He almost tells a lie about why he is tardy, but then he notices the beautiful new girl. The seat next to her is the only empty spot on the girls’ side of the room. Tom admits that he was talking with Huckleberry Finn, and the whole room goes quiet with shock. The teacher whips Tom and sends him to sit with the girls. Tom goes happily to sit by the new girl, whose name turns out to be Becky Thatcher. He gives...
(The entire section is 534 words.)
Chapter 7 Summary
The morning in school seems incredibly long. Eventually Tom gives up trying to focus on his schoolwork. He searches his pockets for entertainment and finds the tick he bought from Huck Finn. He sets it on his desk and begins to play with it by prodding it with a pin to make it change directions.
Tom shares a desk with his best friend, Joe Harper, who is just as bored as he is. When Joe sees Tom’s tick, he is glad. He gets out a pin and begins to play too. Tom draws a line down the center of his slate and makes a rule that each boy gets to play with the tick only when it is on his side of the line. That works well for a while until Joe manages to keep the tick on his side for so long that Tom gets impatient. He reaches over the line, breaking the rule he made. This leads to a furious argument, which is soon ended when their teacher sneaks up behind them and whips them for ignoring their schoolwork.
At lunch time, Tom and Becky Harper both sneak away from their friends and spend lunch together. Tom helps Becky draw a picture on her slate, and then the two of them share a wad of chewing gum. Tom asks Becky if she has ever been engaged, but she does not know what that means. He explains that if a girl and a boy kiss and promise to love each other forever and get married when they grow up, then they are engaged. He insists that being engaged is fun. They will always choose each other as partners, and they will walk to and from school together every day—“when there ain’t anybody looking.” Eventually Becky consents. After the kiss, Tom tells her cheerfully that they are going to have a wonderful time, just like he did when he was engaged to Amy Lawrence.
Becky is appalled to learn that Tom has been engaged before. She begins to cry, and she pushes him away when he tries to comfort her. Tom paces around feeling badly, and he decides to try to make up. He offers Becky his prize possession, a beautiful brass knob, but she slaps it out of his hand. Hurt, Tom runs away and does not return to school for the rest of the day. When he is gone, Becky begins to feel sorry, and she cries again—this time because she wants Tom back.
(The entire section is 420 words.)
Chapter 8 Summary
Tom runs into a private spot in the forest and broods for a long time. He feels that Becky has treated him horribly, and that it might be better to be dead. This gets him wondering whether Becky would be sorry if he died, but of course there would be no way to find out. He wishes desperately that he could “die temporarily.” He knows that this is impossible, so he resolves instead to run away in hopes that he will someday come home and find out if Becky is sorry about treating him so badly. He considers and rejects the idea of becoming a circus clown, a soldier, and an Indian chief. Eventually he settles on being a pirate. When this is decided, he sets about preparing for his adventure.
Firstly, Tom needs to gather all of his possessions. He runs to a nearby rotting log and digs up a little box made of shingles. Inside he is shocked to find a single marble. Like all the boys in his town, he has long held a superstition that if he says certain incantation and then buries a single marble for two weeks, all the marbles he has ever lost will magically gather together. It perplexes him to realize that this has failed to work. He tosses the marble to the ground and thinks it over, eventually deciding that a witch must have interfered with his spell. He cannot do anything to stop a witch, so he does not try. He does, however, spend a great deal of time searching for the marble he has tossed away just now.
After Tom finds the marble, he hears the sound of a tin trumpet. This, he knows, is Joe Harper, calling him out to play Robin Hood. Stripping off his pants and coat, Tom arms himself with a toy bow and sword. He and Joe have a sword fight, and Tom—who is playing the part of Robin Hood—kills Joe. Afterward, Joe claims it is only fair for him to get to kill Tom, too. It would be impossible for Robin Hood to die, so the boys take turns being the hero as they play out several more scenes from the book, each reciting his characters’ lines as well as he remembers them.
When the boys get to the end of the story, they put away their weapons, pull their clothes back on, and walk away wishing that there were still outlaws in the world. They both agree that they would rather spend a year as outlaws in Sherwood Forest than be President of the United States for life.
(The entire section is 438 words.)
Chapter 9 Summary
Tom and Sid say their prayers and get into bed at the same time. Tom tries to stay awake, but he drops off to sleep around eleven. When Huck Finn sneaks into the yard and makes the boys’ secret signal—the meowing sound of a cat—Tom is so deeply asleep that he almost misses it. Luckily, however, a sleepy neighbor throws a bottle at the “cat.” The resulting shattering sound wakes Tom, who quickly pulls on his clothes and slips out to meet his friend.
The boys walk to the graveyard and find the newest grave, which belongs to a man who was called Hoss Williams. The silent, creepy place frightens them a little, so they do not start working on Huck’s cure for warts right away. They whisper back and forth about whether or not the dead people’s spirits can see them. Presently they hear voices, and they both duck out of sight among some trees.
At first the boys think the voices belong to demons, but soon they realize that the visitors are men. One voice belongs to a drunk, Muff Potter, and another belongs to a “half-breed” called Injun Joe. When the men approach, the boys also see the third man, Dr. Robinson. Potter and Joe dig up Hoss Williams’s corpse and place it in a wheelbarrow. When this is done, Joe demands five extra dollars for moving the body. The doctor refuses, saying that he has already paid a fair price upfront.
In the argument that follows, Injun Joe says that he wants revenge for an insult Dr. Robinson paid him years ago. Dr. Robinson hits him, and Potter flies to Joe’s defense. The doctor knocks Potter out, and Joe stabs the doctor in the chest. Tom and Huck, still unnoticed by the men, run away in terror.
After the boys leave, Injun Joe places the knife in the hand of the unconscious Muff Potter. When Potter awakes, he looks at the knife and the dead doctor in shock. his mind is so jumbled with alcohol and his head wound that Injun Joe has no trouble convincing him that he is the killer. Potter begs Joe not to tell anyone, and Joe says he will keep the awful secret. Overcome by fear and grief, Potter runs away.
When Potter is gone, Joe mutters to himself that Potter has left his knife behind. Joe knows that this will incriminate Potter, but that Potter will be too scared to come back for it alone. As far as Injun Joe is concerned, this is perfect. He slips away into the night, convinced that he will get away with the crime he has committed.
(The entire section is 449 words.)
Chapter 10 Summary
Tom and Huck run until they are unable to run any longer. When they need to stop, they sneak into an old tannery building to catch their breath. Huck guesses that Injun Joe will be hung if Dr. Robinson dies. Tom agrees, but points out that Muff Potter was probably knocked out at the time of the stabbing. He wonders who will tell. After discussing for a while, both boys agree that it would be foolish of them to do it. If they tell and then Injun Joe escapes, he will surely kill them both.
Tom and Huck decide to swear an oath that they will never tell anyone what they have seen. Tom suggests shaking on it, but Huck says that there “orter be writing about a big thing like this.” He adds that they should seal the deal by signing in blood. This seems right to Tom, who is impressed by the gravity and darkness of the situation. He finds a shingle and writes out the following message:
Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer swears they will keep mum about This and They wish They may Drop down dead in Their Tracks if They ever Tell and Rot.
The boys prick their fingers and write their initials in blood. Tom has to teach Huck how to write H and F for the occasion. When they are finished, they bury the shingle and speak several incantations over it to make it impossible to change their minds. Afterward, both seem to believe that they will truly die if they ever tell anyone what they have seen.
Tom and Huck sit whispering late into the night. After a while, they hear howling outside. This terrifies them because they both believe that the howling of a stray dog predicts death. They try to convince themselves that the dog is not a stray, but it is. Realizing this, they quake in fear, wondering which of them it means. They take turns lamenting all the bad deeds they have done in their lives.
The dog goes on howling, and eventually Tom notices that its back is to the boys. Moments later, he and Huck hear the sound of snoring. They quickly decide that the stray’s howling is predicting the death of the snorer. Thus relieved, they grow curious. They sneak up on the sleeper to see who he is. When they see Muff Potter, they are both surprised.
It is almost morning by the time Tom sneaks into his bedroom. He falls quickly asleep, unaware that Sid has watched him come in. Sid tells Aunt Polly about Tom’s midnight wanderings, and in the morning Aunt Polly cries and demands...
(The entire section is 518 words.)
Chapter 11 Summary
By noon, the people of the town find Dr. Robinson’s body. Tom’s teacher cancels school for the afternoon, and Tom soon finds himself wandering toward the graveyard with the rest of the curious. He does not want to go, but he cannot seem to stay away. When he arrives, he sees Huck Finn, but after a single scared glance at each other, the two do not interact.
Everyone in town knows that the knife found next to Dr. Robinson’s body belongs to Muff Potter. Moreover, a witness claims to have seen Potter scrubbing himself in a stream—a suspicious activity by a man who normally avoids washing. These two pieces of evidence serve to convict Potter in the minds of the public, and everyone joins in the search for him.
The manhunt does not last long. Potter is soon spotted walking toward the graveyard. The Sheriff grabs him, and Potter shouts that he did not kill Dr. Robinson. At this, a bystander points out that nobody has accused Potter yet. Potter goes limp and tells Injun Joe—who is among the crowd—that he might as well explain what happened.
Tom and Huck listen in horror as Joe lies and says that he saw Muff Potter drunkenly stab Dr. Robinson in a fight. Throughout the story, both boys fully expect God to send a lightning bolt to strike Joe dead. When this does not happen, they conclude that Joe has sold his soul to the devil. This renews their commitment to silence. After all, they have no chance of surviving if they speak out against a man whose soul belongs to Satan.
After this incident, Tom is filled with guilt. One morning Sid announces that Tom has been talking about blood in his sleep. Aunt Polly says that she too has been sleeping poorly since the murder, and Tom pretends that his disquiet is just like hers. However, he pretends to have a toothache and ties his mouth shut for several nights afterward. Suspicious, Sid frequently unties Tom’s bandage and listens to his mutterings. He also watches Tom at school and sees that he hangs back when the kids playact scenes from Muff Potter’s inquest. This is very unusual, because Tom is usually at the center of everything.
During this period, Muff Potter is locked up, awaiting his trial. Whenever he can, Tom stops by the jail and slips small gifts to Potter through the window. Meanwhile, Injun Joe goes free. The townspeople have all concluded that he was part of a grave robbing scheme on the night of the murder, and they all wish...
(The entire section is 455 words.)
Chapter 12 Summary
Eventually Tom stops thinking about Injun Joe and Muff Potter. Instead he worries about Becky Thatcher, who has stopped coming to school. He hangs around her house in the afternoons to find out if she is ill, but he never learns anything. This makes him so depressed that Aunt Polly notices and decides to try to cure him.
Aunt Polly subscribes to many health magazines and diligently follows their advice about diet, exercise, sleep, and so on. She never seems to notice that the health advice she reads is constantly contradicting itself. She is so simple and honest herself that she is an easy target for swindlers. Because of this, she always buys fancy new medicines and follows bogus advice, tormenting everyone she knows with her “cures.”
For Tom’s depression, Aunt Polly tries dunking the boy in cold water, scrubbing him with hard towels, and wrapping him up to make him sweat. When this does not work, she tries various other cures, eventually landing on an awful, fiery tasting medicine called Pain-killer. By this time, Tom is beginning to come out of his low mood, and he decides that he needs to escape his aunt’s doctoring. He does this by pretending to love Pain-killer and asking for it all the time. Eventually Aunt Polly gives him permission to take it as often as he likes. She watches to make sure the level in the bottle continues to drop, and it does—but only because Tom is "mending the health of a crack in the sitting-room floor with it."
One day Tom force-feeds some Pain-killer to the cat, Peter. The poor cat yelps and tears through the room, knocking over pots, turning somersaults, and eventually leaping out the window in its attempt to escape the burning in its mouth. Aunt Polly witnesses the end of this spectacle, and when she discovers what Tom has done, she shouts at him. Tom tells her earnestly that he was trying to help the cat because it “hadn’t any aunt” who could “roast his bowels” with medicine for him. Hearing this, Aunt Polly realizes that if she thinks it is wrong to force-feed something to a cat, it might also be wrong to force-feed it to a boy. She tells Tom that he does not have to take Pain-killer anymore.
Tom is feeling somewhat better, but at school he still is not acting like himself. Rather than play with the other boys, he hangs around watching for Becky Thatcher. He tries chatting with Jeff Thatcher, but Jeff does not give him any information about...
(The entire section is 493 words.)
Chapter 13 Summary
Tom wanders into the woods weeping and feeling that the world has finally pushed him to the brink. This time he is going to run away, once and for all. He soon meets Joe Harper, who is similarly downcast. His mother has just whipped him for drinking some cream he never knew existed, and he is as convinced as Tom is that the world is out to get him.
Joe is planning to run away and be a hermit, but Tom soon convinces him to be a pirate instead. They find Huck Finn and invite him to join them, which he quickly does. They all agree to meet at midnight on the river, at a spot where they know of a raft they can take. Tom, who now calls himself the Black Avenger of the Spanish Main, brings a ham. Joe, the Terror of the Seas, brings some bacon. Huck, the Red-Handed, brings a stolen skillet and some tobacco and corn cobs for pipes. He is the only one of the boys who smokes, but this bothers no one.
Before the boys leave on their journey to a nearby island, Tom suggests stealing a chunk of fire from a large raft that is parked nearby. As they sneak onboard, they mutter plans to murder the watchman because “dead men tell no tales.” They all know that there is no watchman, and that the men from the raft are drinking in the village. Still, they do not feel that is any excuse to act “unpiratical.”
The boys steal a small raft and set out on their journey. Tom, who is captain, calls out orders such as, “Lay out aloft there, half a dozen of ye…Lively, now!” The other boys respond agreeably but merely steer the craft straight. They all understand that the orders are just for fun and do not really mean anything.
When the boys arrive on their island, they unload their provisions and shelter them under a piece of old sail. Then they build a fire and cook bacon and corn pone. When they are full, they all say how wonderful it is to be pirates. Tom teases Joe, saying that this is much better than being a hermit. Hermits, he says, have to cover themselves with ash and sack-cloth. Huck says that he would do no such thing if he were a hermit, and Tom counters that Huck would be a bad one. Huck does not seem to mind this insult. He carves himself a corn-cob pipe and sits back to smoke it. Tom and Joe watch jealously and resolve to take up smoking as soon as possible.
Huck, who knows little about stories, asks Tom what pirates do. Tom explains that they take over ships, kill the captains, and hide...
(The entire section is 617 words.)
Chapter 14 Summary
In the morning, Tom awakes and peacefully watches the natural world for a while. He enjoys inchworms, ladybugs, ants, squirrels, birds, and so on, until he gets bored and wakes Huck and Joe. The boys run happily down to the river for a swim, and they discover that their raft has drifted away in the night. None of them minds this because it makes them feel farther from home. After the swim, the boys return to their camp feeling hungry. Joe cuts up bacon, and Tom and Huck catch a few fish. These are their breakfast, and they are all astounded at how good it tastes.
After breakfast, the boys set out to investigate their new home, which is three miles long and a quarter of a mile wide. They stop for a swim every hour, so it is past midday by the time they return. They eat a dinner of cold ham and then sit drowsily in the shade. Each of them begins to feel homesick, even Huck, who misses the doorsteps and hogsheads where he normally sleeps. However, nobody is brave enough to admit that he might like to go home.
Presently the boys hear a strange booming sound and wonder what it is. Stealing to the edge of the water to look toward town, they see a ferryboat shooting a cannon over the water. As they all know, this is the procedure for making a drowned body float to the river’s surface. The boys speculate about who has “drownded” and tell each other that they would love to be in that ferry helping with the search.
The boys fall silent for a while, until suddenly Tom cries, “Boys, I know who’s drownded; it’s us!” Their mothers and siblings must have noticed them missing and decided that they have drowned. Now they all feel like heroes. They imagine that everyone in town is talking about them and missing them. As they catch fish for dinner, they reflect that it is wonderful to be pirates.
After dinner, however, the excitement wears off. Tom and Joe have begun to realize that their families are suffering while they enjoy their adventure. Joe hesitantly suggests striking out for home, but Tom refuses to consider it. Huck takes Tom’s side, and Joe gives up his suggestion before anyone can accuse him of “chickenhearted homesickness.”
Night falls, and Huck and Joe go to sleep. Tom remains awake, however. He creeps away from the campsite and finds two scraps of sycamore bark. He writes messages on each of them. One he slips one into his jacket pocket, the other into Joe’s hat. He...
(The entire section is 468 words.)
Chapter 15 Summary
Tom swims across a channel to a ferry, stowing himself away out of sight just before it makes its final passage across the river for the night. When it arrives in town, he creeps through the streets, careful to prevent anyone from noticing him. He peeks through the window of his house and sees Aunt Polly sitting with Sid, Mary, and Joe Harper’s mother. He sneaks inside and crawls under a bed to listen to what they have to say.
Aunt Polly says that Tom “warn’t bad, so to say—only mischeevous.” She says that he had a wonderful heart, in spite of his tendency to misbehave. Mrs. Harper says much the same about Joe. She grieves over the fact that she whipped Joe wrongly the last time she saw him, blaming him for taking cream that she forgot she had thrown out. Aunt Polly tells the story of punishing Tom for feeding Pain-killer to her cat. As Tom listens, he is moved to tears along with the speakers—but his tears come mainly because he feels sorry for himself.
In spite of this, Tom is tempted to jump out and reveal himself to stop the women's crying. He holds back, however, and as he listens, he realizes that the townspeople have guessed that he and the boys took the raft. When the raft appeared downriver empty—and when the boys did not turn up at home to eat—everyone assumed that they must have drowned. If the boys do not reappear by Sunday, their families will give up hope and hold a funeral.
When Mrs. Harper leaves, and Sid and Mary go off to bed, Aunt Polly kneels down and prays for Tom. Her prayer is so obviously heartfelt that Tom is again tempted to leap out and show her that he is all right. Again, however, he refrains. He waits for Polly to go to sleep, and he places a sycamore bark message on her nightstand. At the last moment, however, he changes his mind. He puts the bark back in his pocket, kisses Aunt Polly on the lips, and he returns home to his friends.
When Tom goes back to the island, he hears Huck and Joe arguing. Huck thinks that Tom has abandoned them. Joe, who has read the note Tom wrote on the other piece of bark, believes that Tom will not give up being a pirate so easily. Tom stops the argument by stepping into camp. He tells the others about his adventures, and then they all sit down to a breakfast of bacon and fish.
(The entire section is 434 words.)
Chapter 16 Summary
After dinner the boys dig up turtle eggs, which they eat for both supper and breakfast. In the morning they go for a swim and play a few games, and then everyone goes quiet, homesick again. Tom finds himself writing “Becky” in the sand with his toe—but he scratches it out and curses himself for being so weak. Joe, meanwhile, gets so homesick that he cannot be cheered up. Even Huck is rather lonely and sad. Tom tries to distract them with plans for digging up treasure, but neither shows any interest.
Suddenly Joe says he is going to go home. He gets up and begins to gather his things. Tom tries teasing him and arguing with him, but nothing he says changes Joe’s mind. He turns on Huck, begging him at least to stay. Huck remains by Tom’s side until Joe enters the water and prepares to swim for shore. Then Huck gathers his things too and says he is leaving too. He asks Tom to join them, but Tom refuses.
When it is absolutely clear that his friends are not going to return on their own, Tom calls out and asks them to listen to something important. They stop, and he tells them about a secret plan. When Huck and Joe hear what Tom wants to do, they “war-whoop” and tell him that they never would have threatened to leave if they had known.
Now the three boys return happily to their pirate life. After a dinner of fish and eggs, Tom and Joe say they want to learn how to smoke like Huck. Huck whittles them some corn-cob pipes, and Tom and Joe try it out. As they puff the smoke and try not to gag, they both brag that they do not feel a bit sick. They discuss how wonderful it will be when, sometime in the future, they casually take out pipes and smoke in front of the other boys at school.
Eventually the conversation falls silent, and Tom and Joe both sit spitting into the weeds. They set down their pipes, looking green, and Joe says he wants to go look for a knife he has lost. Tom offers to help, and the two of them go off in separate directions. A while later, Huck finds them in separate spots among the trees, fast asleep. He suspects they have been sick, but he does not make them admit it. Later that night, after supper, Huck fills his pipe to smoke as usual. Tom and Joe claim that their stomachs are upset from something they have eaten, so they do not join him.
(The entire section is 441 words.)
Chapter 17 Summary
That night at midnight, Joe wakes up with the feeling that something is wrong. He awakens the others, who agree that the air feels strange. As they sit, huddled together, they see lightning and hear thunder. Winds rise, and rain begins to fall hard. Tom shouts to the others to go to the tent—which happens to be a little scrap of sail they have tied up in the bushes to cover their possessions. They all run, tripping and fearful, in opposite directions. By the time they each reach the tent, they are wet and miserable, and their only comfort is the fact that they are not alone. They cannot talk over the noise of the storm, so they sit shivering to wait it out.
The storm is unusually violent. The wind whips past the boys so hard that their sail tent eventually comes untied and flies away. The boys run again, but this time they grab each other’s hands and stay together. They take shelter under an old oak tree, quaking in fear as lightning and wind topple some of the other trees around them.
When at last the storm stops, the boys return to camp to find their possessions broken or in disarray, and their fire out. They wish they had prepared better for bad weather. Luckily for them, after some investigation, they find that there are still a few burning coals against a log that they have been using to shelter their flames. They coax these coals to life, and soon they have a roaring fire again. They warm themselves and eat.
When the excitement of their latest adventure wears off, the boys feel homesick again. Tom tries all his usual suggestions, but they fail to cheer Huck and Joe. Eventually Tom hits on the idea of giving up piracy for a while and being Indians instead. This appeals to his friends, so they strip naked and pain their bodies with mud. They each become chiefs, and they spend the day happily warring with each other.
That afternoon, a new difficulty arises. The boys want to eat dinner, but they all know that it is impossible for warring Indian chiefs to make peace unless they smoke a pipe together. Tom and Joe see no way around this requirement, so they reluctantly sit down and puff on their corn-cob pipes again. To their relief, they find that they can now stomach the smoke. They still feel a little sick, but not sick enough to pretend to hunt for Joe’s knife in the bushes. Cheered by this development, they resolve to continue practicing. After supper, they smoke again. They sit into the...
(The entire section is 451 words.)
Chapter 18 Summary
Saturday in town is not nearly as happy as Saturday out on the island. Tom’s and Joe’s families both spend the day crying and preparing for a funeral. The streets, which are normally quiet in this sleepy town, seem even quieter than usual. The adults go about their business looking upset. The children mope instead of playing.
That afternoon, Becky Thatcher wanders to the school and finds the place where she and Tom became engaged. She wishes she still had his brass knob to remember him by, and she regrets the fact that the last words she said to him were so unkind. Soon the other children find their way to the schoolyard, and they discuss Tom’s and Joe’s last appearances there. Many of the children retell their final conversations with the boys, convincing themselves and their listeners that they witnessed signs from God that the boys would soon die.
As the children discuss the boys’ last day in town, they confer a certain “sacred importance” on those who spoke to Tom and Joe last. Everyone tries to get a piece of this glory. One boy even says with great pride, “Well, Tom Sawyer he licked me once.” Unfortunately for him, most of the boys can say the same, so the statement gains him no additional respect.
On Sunday morning, the church bell tolls to announce the start of the funeral. Everyone gathers in the church, filling the building to capacity. Aunt Polly enters, dressed in black, along with Sid and Mary. The Harpers come in next. When they find their seats, the funeral service begins.
The minister gives a sermon about the dead boys, highlighting all of their best qualities. The congregation listens, each of them blaming him- or herself for failing to see the vast promise in the boys while they were alive. They are all ashamed that they saw only “faults and flaws” in Tom and Joe, whose constant mischief they know they will now miss. Everyone begins to cry, including the minister in the pulpit.
At this point the church door opens, and Tom and Joe march in with Huck behind them. This was Tom’s great plan: to hide in the church and listen to the sermon for their own funeral. Tom’s and Joe’s families seize them, kissing them and thanking God for returning them safely home. Huck stands by, feeling uncomfortable and unwelcome. He is about to slip away, but Tom stops him. He says it “ain’t fair” that nobody is welcoming Huck. At this, Aunt Polly grabs Huck and...
(The entire section is 523 words.)
Chapter 19 Summary
On Monday morning, Aunt Polly claims that Tom does not love her much. She says that if he did, he would not have put her through so much worry; he would have given her some sign that he was not dead. Mary defends Tom, saying that he would have given his family a message if he had thought of it. She says, “It’s only Tom’s giddy way—he is always in such a rush that the never thinks of anything.”
Aunt Polly’s accusations make Tom feel guilty. He does not want to admit that he came home, so he claims that he dreamed of the family while he was gone. He describes the night he spent eavesdropping on his family and Mrs. Thatcher. Aunt Polly, gullible as ever, hears Tom’s accurate descriptions of that evening’s conversation and declares that he was “prophesying.” She is so overcome by amazement that she forgives him and gives him an apple.
Among the town’s children, Tom is a hero. Small boys follow him around, and boys his own age watch with envy. When he and Joe get out their pipes and smoke in front of the other children, they become the absolute pinnacle of coolness. Tom decides that he no longer needs Becky Thatcher now that he his famous. He turns his attentions on Amy Lawrence to make Becky jealous.
Seeing Tom and Amy together, Becky grows angry indeed. She tells all the children that she is having a picnic, and that she can invite anyone she wants. She asks everyone except Tom and Amy, who simply ignore her. Dismayed, Becky retreats to cry by herself. When she is finished, she forms a new plan.
At recess, Tom continues to walk around with Amy, but he notices that Becky is no longer hovering around them. He looks for her and sees her happily paging through a picture book with Alfred Temple, a boy Tom hates for being rich and well-dressed. Becky pretends not to notice Tom watching, and he grows increasingly angry. He resolves to “lick” Alfred the next chance he gets.
At noon, Tom runs home, unable to bear the sight of Becky and Alfred together. Becky notices that Tom is not watching her, and she begins to wish that she had given him her attention when he was nearby. She has told Alfred that she will look at his picture book with him all through lunch, but now she shoves him away and says she hates him. Alfred has not done anything wrong, so it does not take him long to figure out that Becky has been using him to get to Tom. Furious, he sneaks into the schoolhouse and...
(The entire section is 545 words.)
Chapter 20 Summary
Tom is feeling gloomy when he heads home for lunch. When he arrives, the first thing Aunt Polly says is, “Tom, I’ve a notion to skin you alive.” Tom, whose troubles with Becky have put all other thoughts out of his head, asks why. Aunt Polly explains that she has made a fool of herself, believing Tom’s lies about a prophetic dream and bragging to Mrs. Harper about it. Joe has mentioned to Mrs. Harper that Tom sneaked home to listen to their conversation on the night in question.
This gives Tom a whole new reason to feel bad. His story about the dream seemed clever in the morning, but now he realizes it was mean. He admits that he lied without thinking, but this time Aunt Polly is not so quick to forgive him. She says that Tom never thinks of anybody but himself.
This is actually untrue. Tom explains that the whole reason he came home was to leave Aunt Polly a note explaining that he and the other boys “hadn’t got drownded.” But he has told too many lies, and Aunt Polly refuses to believe him. She says she would almost be happy that he had “run off and acted so bad” if she could believe that he would ever think of her feelings that way—but she knows it is not possible. After all, if he meant to give her a message to relieve her feelings, why did he not do it?
Tom explains that he “just got all full of the idea” of overhearing his own funeral. He could not stand the idea of spoiling the joke by giving it away early. He had a note written out on a piece of bark, but he stowed it in his pocket, kissed her, and went away. Aunt Polly does not know whether or not to believe that he did this, but she sees that he seems sincere. Sighing, she asks him to kiss her again and go back to school.
As soon as Tom leaves, Aunt Polly goes to the closet to look at the jacket Tom wore on his pirating adventure. She stands over it for some time, debating whether or not to check and see if the bark note really exists. Steeling herself for the worst, she checks Tom’s coat pocket and sees that his story is true. She reads his note tearfully and says, “I could forgive the boy, now, if he’d committed a million sins!”
(The entire section is 418 words.)
Chapter 21 Summary
After kissing Aunt Polly good-bye, Tom feels much better. On his way back to school, he sees Becky Thatcher and decides, on impulse, to apologize. He says that he has been mean, and he asks to be friends again. Becky shouts an insult and runs away. This makes Tom furious, and he wishes she were a boy so that he could beat her up. This being impossible, he settles on insulting her, and Becky’s hatred for him is confirmed before the lunch recess is over. She longs for the afternoon’s classes to begin so that she can see Tom whipped for ruining his spelling book.
The town’s teacher, Mr. Dobbins, has always wanted to be a doctor. However, he never had enough money to pursue a degree in medicine, so he has only managed to become a schoolmaster. Every day during the school hours, when the children are busy with their work, he takes a book out of a drawer and studies it. Every child in the school is dying to know what book it is, but they never get a chance to find out because he keeps it locked securely in his drawer.
Today Becky is in a sulk because of Tom’s latest insult, and so she is the first student to step into the classroom after lunch. She glances at Mr. Dobbins’s desk and sees the key waiting in the lock. She stares for a moment, glances around to make sure she is alone, and then takes out the book. The title is Anatomy, a word she does not know, so she opens it to the title page. There she sees a picture of a human being. As she studies it, Tom enters the room behind her. Surprised, Becky jumps and accidentally tears the picture. She shoves the book into Mr. Dobbins’s desk and whirls around to face Tom, shouting that he scared her on purpose to get her in trouble. She accuses him of wanting to tell on her to get her whipped.
Becky runs crying to her desk, and Tom stands still, shocked. He reflects that Becky is “a curious kind of fool,” and that it is typical of a girl to be “so thin-skinned and chicken-hearted” as to be scared of being whipped by a teacher. He has no desire to get her in trouble, but he knows that Mr. Dobbins will ask everyone in the class if they are responsible for tearing the book. Becky will surely give herself away: “Girls’ faces always tell on them. They ain’t got any backbone.”
When the afternoon’s classes begin, Tom sits brooding about Becky’s problem. He is still mad at her, but he cannot help feeling sorry that she is so upset....
(The entire section is 691 words.)
Chapter 22 Summary
Summer vacation is approaching, but for now this means misery for the children at Tom’s school. Mr. Dobbins is nervous about “Examination” day, when the children will perform before the whole town to show what they have learned throughout the year. Because of this, he whips the students more frequently than ever. Although he is totally bald beneath his wig, he is not the least bit frail.
The smallest boys bear the brunt of Mr. Dobbins’s anger, and they are soon extremely angry at him. They take every opportunity to play pranks, but Mr. Dobbins always gets back at them with yet more whippings. The boys cannot stand the way he always comes out on top. They discuss the problem, and soon they make a brilliant plan for final revenge.
Mr. Dobbins rents a room from the town’s sign painter, whose son promises that he can prepare their revenge during the teacher’s nap before the “Examination” day event. The other boys work on the rest of the preparations, and as the evening begins, everyone is excited to see what will happen.
The whole town assembles in the schoolhouse, with the children sitting up front. There are “rows of small boys, washed and dressed to an intolerable state of discomfort” as well as “snow-banks of girls…clad in lawn and muslin.” The performance begins with the smallest children, who recite poems and famous speeches. The littlest ones get through their performances all right, but Tom Sawyer gets stage fright in the middle of the “Give me liberty or give me death” speech, and he is unable to finish.
After the recitations are over, the older girls get up and read compositions they have written themselves. These works of literature are characterized by “glaring insincerity” and extreme overuse of purple prose. At the end of the readings, first prize is awarded to a ten-page “nightmare” that is popular with the audience because it declares non-Presbyterians evil.
At the end of these readings, Mr. Dobbins seems pleased. He stands up to draw an outline of the United States on the blackboard. He is planning to quiz the students on geography in front of the audience, but his drawing is so bad that the crowd giggles. He wipes it out and starts over, concentrating hard on doing the job properly. The crowd continues to laugh, and he does not understand why.
Unbeknownst to Mr. Dobbins, the small boys are lowering a live cat on a string...
(The entire section is 479 words.)
Chapter 23 Summary
As summer begins, Tom joins a group called the Cadets of Temperance. He gets to march in formation and wear a red sash, but he has to promise not to drink or smoke or swear as long as he is a member. As soon as he makes this oath, he is overwhelmed by an intense urge to do all of these things. However, he wants badly to wear his red sash in public, so he sticks to his oath.
After two days, it is clear to Tom that he will never make it to the Fourth of July without drinking or swearing. He decides to quit the Cadets right after marching at the funeral of Judge Frazer—but the sick old man refuses to die. Tom waits and watches the judge’s condition, trying on his sash in front of a mirror whenever the illness looks grim. Unfortunately the judge soon seems to be recovering his health. Disgusted, Tom quits the Cadets. The judge dies that night, and Tom is forced to watch, envious, from the sidelines as his former brethren march without him.
Soon Tom has to admit that his vacation is not meeting his expectations. He tries keeping a diary, but he has nothing to write in it. He starts a minstrel band, but this quickly becomes boring. Even the Fourth of July is no good because it rains all day. A United States Senator, Mr. Benton, comes to town for the celebration, but he does not measure up to Tom’s hopes. He is not “twenty-five feet high, nor even anywhere in the neighbourhood of it.”
Whenever anything exciting happens—circuses, traveling mesmerizes, parties—it only serves to highlight the dreary boredom of the time between them. Becky Thatcher goes away with her parents, so Tom does not have her company to entertain him. He spends much of his time idle, worrying about the murder he and Huck witnessed in the graveyard.
One day Tom comes down with the measles. After two weeks as a “prisoner,” lying sick in bed, Tom gets a little better and is allowed out to wander around the town. He searches in vain for someone to play with. A revival has passed through town, and everyone is newly religious. Joe Harper is studying the Bible, Ben Rogers is visiting the poor, and even the normally delinquent Huckleberry Finn greets Tom with a quotation from scripture.
The next day, Tom suffers a relapse of the measles. This time he is sick for three full weeks. When he gets better, he wanders sadly outdoors. Now that all of his friends have reformed, it is hardly worth being well. He has no...
(The entire section is 475 words.)
Chapter 24 Summary
The day of Muff Potter’s trial approaches, and Tom lives in constant fear. Whenever people bring up the murder, he feels guilty and wonders if they are trying to make him confess something. He knows that nobody can know that he witnessed the crime, but he is in an agony of guilt. He finds Huck in a similar condition, and the two of them go off to a quiet spot to talk.
Tom and Huck feel badly for Potter. The man “ain’t no account,” but he is kind. When he was free, he sometimes shared food with Huck even when he did not have enough for himself. He was also nice to Tom, helping him mend kites and put hooks onto fishing lines. Both boys wish they could find a way to free Potter, but they know that the townspeople would lynch him if he escaped. They remain afraid of what Injun Joe would do to them if they told the truth, so they renew their commitment to “keep mum” about the murder.
The boys feel guilty about their decision, so they often bring Potter tobacco and matches in the prison. Today when they stop by his cell, they end up feeling guiltier than ever. Potter praises both boys for standing by him when the rest of the townspeople have turned their backs. He says that it is right for him to be hung for his crime, and he asks the boys to promise never to turn to drink, in case they end up like him. That night, Tom cannot sleep.
Tom goes to the trial and listens to each witness giving testimony. The prosecutor calls witnesses to describe Potter’s suspicious behavior on the night of the murder, to identify his knife, and so on. Each time the prosecutor finishes the witness, Potter’s lawyer says that he has no questions. By the third or fourth time this happens, the crowd begins to murmur. Except for Tom, Huck, and Injun Joe, everyone is convinced that Potter is guilty. Still, they want his lawyer to try, at least, to mount a defense.
When the prosecution rests its case, Potter moans, believing his death sentence is near. However, his lawyer surprises him and everyone by calling Tom Sawyer to the witness stand. Tom rises and walks fearfully forward. He takes the oath to tell the truth. When asked where he was at the time of the murder, Tom glances at Injun Joe. At first he is too afraid to speak, but he knows he has to tell the truth now. He whispers that he was in the graveyard.
As Tom tells his story, he slowly gains confidence. The crowd goes silent, listening with rapt...
(The entire section is 479 words.)
Chapter 25 Summary
Once again, Tom has become “a glittering hero.” The children all envy him, and the adults all praise him. His name appears in the town paper—a fact which makes him truly famous in the eyes of the world. People begin to mutter that he will be president someday, unless his mischievous nature causes him to commit some crime that gets him hung.
Now that Muff Potter is known to be innocent, the “fickle unreasoning world” embraces him. Potter is praised and cared for with great enthusiasm—just as he was recently condemned with great enthusiasm. In this case, however, the world’s good side is showing, so there is no point faulting anyone for it.
Tom spends his days in glory and his nights in terror. Injun Joe is free, marauding through Tom’s dreams. Only the most alluring temptations can persuade Tom to leave his house at night. Because of this, he does not get to enact quite as much mischief as usual.
Huck is just as scared as Tom. Nobody knows that he was with Tom on the night of the murder—since Injun Joe’s abrupt departure saved him from testifying—but he is afraid that he will be found out. Besides Tom, the only person who knows is Potter’s lawyer, and he is sworn to secrecy. Nevertheless, Huck does not feel safe. Considering the fact that Tom Sawyer himself went back on “the dismalest and most formidable of oaths, Huck’s confidence in the human race [is] well-nigh obliterated.”
As it turns out, Tom’s conscience forced him to confess the entire story about the murder on the night before Injun Joe’s trial. He went to Muff Potter’s lawyer’s house in the middle of the night and told his “dread tale,” and now everyone in the world knows the truth. Now Tom is glad—at least during the day—that he did the right thing. Still, he spends his nights regretting the decision. He knows he is not safe, and never will be, until Injun Joe is dead.
People have offered a reward for Injun Joe’s capture, but nobody has managed to make the capture—or learn much at all about the man’s whereabouts. A detective has come to town to help with the search, but he merely “moused around, shook his head, looked wise,” and announced that he had discovered a clue. This is an accomplishment of sorts, but “you can’t hang a ‘clue’ for murder.” Now the detective is gone, and as the days drag on, fear is Tom’s constant companion.
(The entire section is 436 words.)
Chapter 26 Summary
At some point in life, every “rightly constructed” boy feels a deep longing to dig for buried treasure. One day this desire strikes Tom, and he goes out to look for a partner in his new plan. He cannot find Joe Harper, and Ben Rogers is busy. Tom searches out Huck Finn, who immediately agrees to join him. Huck always agrees to every plan, as long as it sounds fun and does not require money, because he has “a troublesome superabundance of that sort of time which is not money.”
Probably because of his lack of schooling, Huck is woefully uneducated about hidden treasure. He demands to know who buries treasure and what prevents them from coming back for it. Tom says that robbers bury treasure. He cannot explain why they do not spend it instead, but he knows that they usually die or end up forgetting where they buried it, thus leaving it for some lucky boy to find. To find these lost treasures, a boy ought to have an old map made by a robber. Tom does not have one of these, so he and Huck will just have to look at random until they find the proper spot.
The boys carry a pick and shovel to a dead tree three miles from town. When they arrive, they are tired and sweaty, and they throw themselves down in the shade to smoke. Huck says that when they find the treasure, he is going to eat pie every day, and go to every circus. Tom suggests saving some of the money, but Huck thinks this is a bad idea. He well knows that his pa will take any money he tries to keep.
The conversation turns to Tom’s plans, and Tom lists off everything he will buy as soon as he is rich—a drum, a puppy, and so on. Also, he plans to get married. Huck thinks this is crazy. He claims that getting married simply leads a man to fight and be sad all the time, but Tom insists that he girl he wants to marry will never fight.
The boys begin to dig. After half an hour, Tom declares that they must have the wrong spot. They try a new spot on the other side of the dead tree, but the work soon grows harder and less fun. Tom thinks witches might be casting spells to thwart their labor, but Huck reminds him that witches have no power during the day. Tom suggests digging in the haunted house instead. Huck hates haunted houses, but he agrees—as long as they do the digging during the day.
(The entire section is 441 words.)
Chapter 27 Summary
In the morning, Tom and Huck set out for the haunted house, but then Huck remembers that it is Friday. They decide not to risk entering the haunted house on such an unlucky day. The next morning they gather their courage and take their pick and shovel to the haunted house. Inside they spend a little time exploring the crannies and closets. Curious about what they might find upstairs, they climb to the second floor. Soon they hear voices, and they both freeze in terror.
Two men enter the haunted house. One is a ragged tramp they do not recognize, and the other is a Spaniard who has been hanging around town lately, a man they perceive to be deaf and dumb. Tom and Huck watch and listen through knotholes in the floor as the Spaniard begins to speak. The boys realize that he is not deaf and dumb at all; in fact, he is Injun Joe in disguise. Joe tells the ragged man that he wants to do a certain "job," which will be dangerous but rewarding, and then flee to Texas.
Injun Joe and his friend lie down to sleep for a while. The boys want to sneak out, but the floor creaks too badly for them to move. They stay where they are, watching the sleeping criminals through knotholes. At nightfall the men wake up, and Injun Joe says that they should hide their money—six hundred and fifty dollars in silver coins—so they do not have to carry it with them while they do their job. Grabbing the pick and shovel that Tom and Huck brought, they begin digging in a corner. To their surprise, they find a wooden box full of thousands of dollars worth of gold coins.
Joe and his friend discuss what to do with the treasure they have found. The friend wants to take it and leave for Texas right away, without doing the dangerous job. Joe says no. To him, this job is as much about revenge as it is about money. He suggests reburying the treasure, doing the job, and then coming back for the money when they are finished. Naturally, this idea appeals to the boys, who are listening in silence upstairs. That would allow them time to steal the treasure and leave.
Suddenly Joe points out that it is odd that he found a pick and shovel in the corner of a derelict house. This realization makes him suspicious that someone else might be planning to come for the money. He and his friend decide to move the gold to one of their hiding places: “number two—under the cross.”
When the men leave, the boys are furious that they have lost...
(The entire section is 501 words.)
Chapter 28 Summary
When Tom wakes up the next morning, he begins to suspect that the adventure in the haunted house was only a dream. This would explain why there was so much gold, more gold than could possibly be expected to exist in real life. Tom has never before seen even fifty dollars at once. To him, words like “hundreds” and “thousands” are “mere fanciful forms of speech.” He has never imagined that any actual person could possess a hundred dollars. If people really analyzed what he thought hidden treasure would be, they would find him imagining “a handful of real dimes, and a bushel of vague, splendid, ungraspable ones.”
After breakfast, Tom decides to find out whether or not the treasure was real. He finds Huck sitting on a boat, dangling his feet into the water and looking sad. Tom decides not to bring up the subject of their adventure. Instead, he says hello and waits. Huck soon begins to complain that they never should have brought their pick and shovel into the haunted house.
Reassured that the treasure is real, Tom begins planning to find it. Huck does not think they have a chance of taking thousands of dollars from the likes of Injun Joe, but he is willing to discuss what the men might have meant when they referred to their hiding spot as “number two.” The boys know it cannot be a house number, since their town is too small to have numbered buildings. Tom suggests it may be a room at a tavern. Huck agrees, and Tom runs happily away to investigate the town’s two inns.
In the more expensive of the two taverns, Tom finds room two occupied by a lawyer who has been living there for some time. In the less expensive, he interviews the innkeeper’s son, who says that room two is mysteriously locked at all times. The boy believes the room is haunted because he never sees anyone go in or out except at night, and he sometimes sees lights inside when he does not expect them.
When Tom relates this information to Huck, both boys agree that room two in the cheaper tavern may well belong to Injun Joe and his companion. Tom and Huck resolve to find all the keys they can and use them to try to open the tavern’s back door. Both boys are scared of what may happen, but they are also determined to get that treasure for themselves.
(The entire section is 414 words.)
Chapter 29 Summary
The boys watch the tavern for several days, but they do not see Injun Joe or his friend. For a long time the weather is good, and the nights are so clear that it never gets really dark. The boys do not dare to try to sneak into the inn under these conditions. When a cloudy and gloomy day finally arrives, Tom sneaks out of the house at night, bringing a lantern and a towel to cover its light. He and Huck sneak over to the tavern, and Huck stands watch while Tom sneaks into the back alley to try his keys in the door of room two.
While Huck stands watch, he grows very nervous. It is very dark and quiet, and he cannot see Tom or hear anything happening. After what seems like hours, he begins to wonder if his friend might have fainted or died. Huck continues waiting, but he creeps a bit closer, hoping to catch some glimpse of what is going on. He keeps expecting some horror to strike.
Suddenly Tom bursts out of the alley, shouting at Huck to run as quickly as he can. Huck sprints after Tom at top speed. The boys run to a deserted slaughterhouse at the edge of town. As soon as they go inside, rain begins to pour down. Catching his breath, Tom explains how he tried some of his keys, but they failed to turn inside the lock. Then he realized that the door was not locked at all. It opened, and Tom went in—almost stepping on Injun Joe himself. The man was lying on the floor, sound asleep. Luckily he did not wake up, but Tom was so scared he ran before he could look around for the treasure or the cross.
The boys conclude that Injun Joe was passed out drunk. This means that he is probably still asleep, but they are too scared to try to sneak past him to look for the treasure. They know that if they watch carefully, they will be sure to see the man leave the room sometime, and then they can go inside and take a safe look around. Huck offers to keep watch all night, every night, if Tom agrees to be the one to sneak into the room. Nobody expects Huck home at night, and he can sleep during the days in Ben Rogers’s hayloft. Tom agrees that this sounds like a good plan, and he tells Huck to come to his house and meow whenever the coast is clear.
(The entire section is 426 words.)
Chapter 30 Summary
On Friday, Becky returns to town. Tom is delighted, and he forgets about Injun Joe and the treasure for a while. Becky’s mother has been promising for ages to hold a picnic, and now she says that it will happen tomorrow. All that night, Tom hopes to hear Huck meowing at the window. He thinks it would be amazing to have a death-defying story of murder and treasure to tell the other picnickers in the morning.
Huck does not meow, but Tom does not mind. He knows the picnic will be wonderful anyway. The adults have chartered a ferry to take the children to the picnic spot. On the way, Tom learns that Becky is supposed to stay the night with the Harper family, who live near the ferry landing. He tells her it would be much better to stay at the Widow Douglas’s house instead. “She’ll have ice cream! She has it ‘most every day—dead loads of it.” He brushes off Becky’s objections, saying that it is as safe at the Widow Douglas’s as at the Harpers’, and besides, Becky’s mother will not find out.
It does not occur to Tom until after this conversation that if he goes to stay with the Widow Douglas, he will not be home to hear Huck meow. He decides not to worry about it. There is a good chance that Huck will not meow tonight, and anyway, it makes more sense to do the fun thing he knows he can do rather than waiting for an adventure that may never come.
The ferry drops the children off at a beautiful spot, and they all play in the forest for a while before gorging themselves on food. After dinner, they all go swarming to McDougal’s cave, a labyrinth of limestone tunnels that weaves its way into the hill. There are too many tunnels for anyone to know the way through all of them, but many of the boys know routes through the tunnels that are closest to the surface. The children run and play all afternoon, sneaking down side tunnels in little groups and then doubling back to tease and scare their friends. When the game finally ends, it is almost dark. Children pile back into the ferry and travel back to town.
When the ferry returns, Huck is already keeping watch outside the tavern. Not being the sort of boy who gets invited to picnics, he does not know where the ferry is coming from or what its occupants have been doing. His mind is on his job anyway, and he wonders if he will ever see anyone coming out of room two.
Late that night, Huck sees Injun Joe and his friend emerge from room...
(The entire section is 727 words.)
Chapter 31 Summary
Before dawn the next morning, Huck Finn knocks again at the Welshman’s door. When he answers Huck, the Welshman cries out that he will open his door to him any time. He welcomes a startled Huck inside and invites him to breakfast. As the Welshman and his sons prepare the food, he describes the encounter with the attempted burglars in the night. He and his sons exchanged gunshots with the criminals, but nobody was hit, and the criminals got away. He asks Huck if he knows who it was, and Huck says it was the deaf-dumb Spaniard and his raggedy friend. Hearing this, the Welshman sends his sons to tell the sheriff. Before they go, Huck begs them not to tell anyone who gave them this information.
When the young men are gone, the Welshman gives Huck breakfast and asks him to explain how he came to be following the men. Huck does not want to explain about the treasure, so he claims that he was wandering around town in the middle of the night, thinking about how he wanted to be a good boy instead of a bad one. He claims that he saw two men come out of a tavern with a bundle, and he got a look of them by the light of their cigars. Thinking they looked suspicious, he followed them until he heard them talking about their awful plans.
Huck’s story is half full of lies, and the Welshman catches most of them. He acts surprised that Huck could get a good look at people by cigar light. Later he is stunned when Huck claims to have heard a deaf and dumb man speak. Huck stammers and tries to make up a new story to cover his tracks, but the Welshman makes him stop. He promises to protect Huck, and the boy reluctantly admits knowing that the Spaniard is Injun Joe in disguise.
The Welshman mentions that one of the people searching for the burglars found a package near the Widow Douglas’s house. Huck cries out in shock, thinking that the package might contain the treasure. The Welshman calms him and says it was only a bundle of burglar’s tools. When Huck refuses to say what he thought the package might contain, the Welshman decides that the boy must simply be tired out and hysterical from the fear and excitement of the night.
Soon after this conversation, the Widow Douglas and several of her friends knock on the Welshman’s door. Huck hides and listens as the Welshman explains what happened. As promised, he refuses to say who warned him about the criminals, but he drops a few hints about the person’s goodness and...
(The entire section is 673 words.)
Chapter 32 Summary
On the day of the picnic, Tom and Becky go into the cave with the other children. They quickly get tired of the hide-and-seek game everyone else is playing, and they decide to explore instead. Tom goes behind a waterfall and finds a downward passageway, much like a staircase. The two of them poke around for a while, marking their turns with smoke from a candle. Soon they find themselves in a magnificent world of stalactites and stalagmites. They come into a large chamber and disturb a family of bats, which chase them, putting out Becky’s candle. Tom relights it with his own candle, but when the two of them decide to turn back, he suggests taking a different route. They have no matches, so he does not want to go past the bats and risk losing both flames at once.
Tom investigates a whole series of passages, but does not recognize any of them. He tries to keep Becky cheerful, but she soon realizes that they are lost. Becky suggests retracing their steps, but this does not work. It never occurs to Tom to mark their latest turns with candle smoke; he thought he would find his way forward without needing to turn back. Becky begins to cry. Tom berates himself, admitting it is all his fault they are lost. Becky does not want him to feel this way, so she tries to cheer Tom up.
The children push onward, looking for a way back to the cave entrance. Tom scares Becky by blowing out her candle. While she knows he has a whole candle, plus several pieces of candle in his pocket, she does not want to imagine being stuck in the cave long enough to use them all up.
When the children stop to rest, Becky falls asleep for a while. They share a piece of cake that Tom stowed in his pocket during the picnic. Becky cries again, but Tom assures her that people will miss them and search for them. They quickly realize, however, that Becky is not expected home that night. And because Tom has a bad habit of staying out late, it is possible that neither child will be missed until the following day.
Eventually Tom stops beside a spring and admits that they can go no farther. Their last stub of candle is about to burn out, and they need to stay near water. For a time, he and Becky sit hopelessly in the darkness by the spring. When at last they hear voices calling, they grab each other by the hand and try to make their way toward the searchers. They shout and shout, but the sounds of the searchers fade away. They feel their way back...
(The entire section is 699 words.)
Chapter 33 Summary
By Tuesday afternoon, the townspeople have begun to think that Tom and Becky will never be found. Mrs. Thatcher is so worried that she gets sick, and Aunt Polly seems to age years over the course of a few days. Then, late on Tuesday night, bells begin to ring. Townspeople run out into the streets shouting, “They’re found!”
A carriage comes forward with Tom and Becky inside. The families of the two children run forward, joyously crying, to hug them and welcome them home. Tom tells the story of their adventure, adding details here and there to make it more exciting. He explains how he continued exploring passages for a long time, always traveling to the very end of his kite string. Once, when he got to the end of his string, he noticed a tiny spot of light in the distance. He put the string down and felt his way toward the light—and poked his head through a hole in the side of a hill. As fast as he could, Tom made his way back to Becky, waking her up and telling her that he had found a way out. He led her to the hole, and they cried in happiness as they climbed out. Eventually Tom managed to flag down a passing boat. The men on board gave the children food and brought them back to town.
For days after their adventure, Tom and Becky are weak and tired. Tom spends two days in bed, and it is not until he gets up again that he learns about Huck’s illness. The Widow Douglas allows Tom to stop by and visit his friend, but she forbids him from telling any exciting stories. Because of this, Tom and Huck do not get a chance to compare notes about their adventures.
One afternoon, Tom decides to stop by Becky’s house to visit her. He meets Judge Thatcher, who asks him if he would ever go back into the cave where he and Becky got lost. When Tom says yes, Judge Thatcher looks triumphant. He says that he has taken measures to prevent any boy in town from returning to McDougal’s cave. When Tom asks how, Judge Thatcher explains that as soon as Tom and Becky got out, he had the entrance sealed up with a metal door, which is chained up and triple locked. Hearing this, Tom becomes white as a ghost. Judge Thatcher demands to know what is wrong, but for a moment Tom cannot speak. Someone throws water in his face, and he stammers, “Oh, Judge! Injun Joe’s in the cave!”
(The entire section is 438 words.)
Chapter 34 Summary
Tom, Judge Thatcher, and a large group of men row up the river toward the cave. When the new metal doors are opened, they find Injun Joe, dead. They can see how he tried to cut through the doors, and how he ate candle wax and bats to stave off starvation. The townspeople bury Injun Joe next to the cave, and people from all around the countryside come in wagons and boats for the event. Everyone agrees that the funeral is almost as much fun as a hanging would have been.
Not long after Injun Joe’s funeral, Tom and Huck meet up and share the stories of their respective adventures. Huck says that somebody must have “nipped” the money from room number two, but Tom disagrees. He says the money is in the cave, and that he alone knows a way to go inside and get it. Huck is still weak from his recent illness, but naturally he is eager to go discover buried treasure. Tom rows down the river to the hillside where he found the secret cave entrance. As he and Huck climb inside, he lectures Huck about how they will one day be robbers, and have a gang, and use the cave as a hideout where they keep people for ransom.
Now quite experienced with caves, Tom has brought a lot of kite string, candles, and matches. He leads Huck first to the little spring where he and Becky stayed together, and then on to the chamber where he saw Injun Joe. Holding up their candles, the boys see a cross. For a moment, Huck is scared to go on, convinced that Injun Joe’s ghost will attack them. Tom, however, points out that a ghost cannot harm them in the presence of a cross. Reassured, the boys approach the cross and search all around it. When they find nothing of value, Tom decides to dig underneath with his knife. Six inches down, in a layer of clay, he finds a box full of gold.
The boys find the box too heavy to carry, so they empty the gold into bags and carry it back to their boat. There they eat and smoke before setting out for home. They borrow a wagon whose owner is not using it at the moment, and they load up their treasure, driving it toward the Widow Douglas’s house. Their plan is to hide the money and meet later to divide it. However, when they come to the Welshman’s place, he tells them that they have to go see the Widow Douglas right away.
Huck, who is often blamed for crimes he did not commit, assumes that he is in trouble. The Welshman assures him that there is no reason to worry. The boys enter the widow’s...
(The entire section is 556 words.)
Chapter 35 Summary
As soon as the widow leaves, Huck suggests sneaking out the window. He says he cannot stand to be around so many people, especially if he has to wear brand-new clothes. Tom promises to take care of Huck and tells him not to worry. Just then, Sid comes in and says that he knows what the party is about. Mr. Jones, the Welshman, is planning to tell everyone in town that Huck saved the Widow Douglas on the night of the attempted robbery. Laughing, Sid explains that Mr. Jones thinks this is a surprise, but everyone else already knows. Tom realizes that Sid was probably responsible for spoiling the surprise for everyone, so he calls Sid mean and kicks him out of the room.
By now Huck is even more nervous than before, but Tom convinces him to join the party anyway. When Mr. Jones gives a speech about Huck’s heroism, everyone pretends to be surprised. The Widow Douglas acts so thankful that Huck almost forgets how awful it is to wear clean clothes and to be a “target” for everyone’s attention. She surprises him by announcing that she is going to adopt him and make sure he gets an education. Further, she promises to set aside a little money to get him started in a business someday.
At the mention of giving Huck money, Tom speaks up: “Huck don’t need it. Huck’s rich!” Everyone laughs at this and then falls into an awkward silence. Tom insists that it is the truth. He runs outside, while everyone stares at Huck, waiting for an explanation. Naturally Huck is far too nervous to say anything, but soon Tom returns with two huge, heavy bags. He announces that half of the contents belong to Huck and half to him. Then he dumps the bags out on the widow’s table.
Everyone gasps in amazement at the huge pile of gold. At first, nobody can speak due, but when they get their voices back, they ask Tom for an explanation. He tells the story with his usual flair, being careful to insert as many fascinating details as possible.
When all the gold is counted, it turns out to be worth twelve thousand dollars. Nobody, not even the richest adults in the crowd, has ever seen so much money in one place, although a few of the adults own property that is valued a bit higher. Seeing it, Mr. Jones observes that the surprise he planned for the evening is nothing compared to the surprise the two boys have brought.
(The entire section is 429 words.)
Chapter 36 Summary
The story of Tom’s and Huck’s adventure causes a huge stir among the townspeople. Grown men go around ripping up every haunted house for miles, looking for more treasure—but nobody finds any. Tom’s and Huck’s guardians invest the money, and soon each boy has an income of a dollar every day. This is more money than even the minister earns. Moreover, people treat the boys with respect; they repeat everything the boys say as if it is important. Neither Tom nor Huck can remember being able to say anything of worth before, but now they have “evidently lost the power of doing and saying commonplace things.”
Tom gets along quite well with his new high status. Judge Thatcher takes an interest in him, especially after Becky tells the story about how Tom told a noble lie to protect her from being whipped at school. The Judge privately decides to send Tom to a military school someday so he can grow up to be a soldier or a lawyer, whichever he chooses.
Huck, however, is not so happy. He is forced to wash, eat with a knife and fork, go to church, and refrain from smoking and swearing. At night he has to sleep between crisp, clean sheets that lack even one “little spot or stain which he [can] press to his heart and know for a friend.” He is utterly miserable, and after three weeks he decides he cannot take the pressure anymore. He disappears. The frightened widow tells her neighbors that Huck is missing, and the whole town joins in the search.
Only Tom Sawyer knows where to look for Huck. He finds his friend behind the abandoned slaughterhouse, dressed in his old rags and having slept in straw and eaten stolen food for breakfast. Tom tells Huck to go home, but Huck will not hear of it. He says the widow and her servants “comb me all to thunder...and won’t let me sleep in the woodshed” and make him wear fine clothes that “don’t seem to any air get through ‘em, somehow.” In civilized life, “grub comes too easy” and there is too much praying. Besides, school is about to start, and there is simply no way Huck could survive such a place.
According to Huck, the worst part is that he and Tom cannot be robbers anymore, now that they are rich. He figures that respectable people do not get to live the robber’s life, but Tom explains that the opposite is true. Unlike pirates, robbers have to come from lordly backgrounds. If Huck is a vagabond, he will not be able to join in the fun....
(The entire section is 536 words.)