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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

by Mark Twain
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In "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," what does a pupil get when he or she has ten yellow tickets?

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The pupils received a blue ticket for reciting two verses of the bible. Ten blue tickets equalled one red ticket and ten red tickets equalled one yellow ticket. For ten yellow tickets a pupil could get a "very plainly bound bible." Though some of the more diligent pupils had earned...

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The pupils received a blue ticket for reciting two verses of the bible. Ten blue tickets equalled one red ticket and ten red tickets equalled one yellow ticket. For ten yellow tickets a pupil could get a "very plainly bound bible."

Though some of the more diligent pupils had earned a number of bibles, learning thousands of verses was hardly worth the trouble for someone as fun-loving as Tom Sawyer. So to get around the boring bit of learning the passages, he had traded in various items for the tickets. He had even taken tickets for the privilege of helping him to whitewash his fence.

Tom goes up to the front with nine yellow tickets, nine red tickets and ten blue ones and gives them to Walters. "It was the most stunning surprise of the decade." As the author states, Walters had not expected to give a bible to a pupil such as a Tom for the next ten years.

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The answer is contained in the following quote:

Each blue ticket was pay for two verses of the recitation. Ten blue tickets equaled a red one, and could be exchanged for it; ten red tickets equaled a yellow one; for ten yellow tickets the superintendent gave a very plainly bound Bible (worthy forty cents in those easy times) to the pupil.

So, the reward for ten yellow tickets is a Bible.

The problem with this is the math involved; if one blue ticket is worth 2 verses, a red ticket worth 20, and a yellow ticket worth 200, then earning the Bible requires reciting 2000 passages. Neither Tom nor the other boys really have any interest in so daunting a task, but Tom wants the Bible anyway, although more for the sake of prestige than out of any real religious devotion. Tom trades a variety of things, such as marbles, for the other boy's tickets. Tom does end up getting the Bible, but his lack of real knowledge about its contents becomes apparent the moment that he is tested.

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