The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Questions and Answers
by Mark Twain

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How did Tom make Ben do whitewashing?

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Payal Khullar eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In chapter 2 of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, Aunt Polly punishes Tom for his mischief by giving him the task of whitewashing whole of their fence. Of course, Tom wouldn’t want to do this boring job. But he reluctantly starts doing it. Ben Rogers comes there and pities him for the boring job he has been doing. But Tom takes this situation to his advantage. He smartly convinces Ben that this job is very interesting and pleasurable, plus it’s not every day one gets an opportunity like this.

"Like it? Well, I don't see why I oughtn't to like it. Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?"

It’s human nature to run after things that are rare and beyond one's reach. Tom tactfully applies his genius to make a tiring task of whitewashing look very appealing.

Ben watching every move and getting more and more interested, more and more absorbed. Presently he said:

"Say, Tom, let me whitewash a little."

Not only does Tom cunningly persuade Ben (and others later in the novel) to whitewash the fence, but also takes from him his apple in return of doing this “interesting” job. 

"Oh, shucks, I'll be just as careful. Now lemme try. Say -- I'll give you the core of my apple."

Interestingly, Ben himself requests Tom to give him his turn for whitewashing the fence once.

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fireyoyo | Student

By tricking him