The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Questions and Answers
by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer book cover
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How might Injun Joe's actions be explained as the result of racial injustice in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer?

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While it is true Injun Joe is certainly the "bad guy" of the story in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, he is more than a one-dimensional character. The more the reader understands about Injun Joe's history, the more one understands how some of his actions might be traced back to racial injustice earlier in life.

Clearly, Injun Joe remembers some of the unfair circumstances he faced in his younger years and he seeks vengeance for them. When he confronts Dr. Robinson, Injun Joe alludes to some of the injustice he faced earlier when he says the following:

Five years ago you drove me away from your father's kitchen one night, when I come to ask for something to eat, and you said I warn't there for any good; and when I swore I'd get even with you if it took a hundred years, your father had me jailed for a vagrant. Did you think I'd forget? The Injun blood ain't in me for nothing. And now I've got you, and you got to settle, you know! 

Later in the book, when Injun Joe attacks Widow Douglas, it would seem the cause of his grievance with her dates back to a previous injustice when he was horsewhipped in front of the jail, by order of the judge, who is Widow Douglas' now-deceased husband. Injun Joe was offended by the punishment, which he equates to the same sort of punishment a black man would receive at the time.

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