Please explain this quote from Chapter 4 of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer."In chapter 4, when Tom is getting ready for sunday school, I don't understand what the author means by saying...

Please explain this quote from Chapter 4 of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer."

In chapter 4, when Tom is getting ready for sunday school, I don't understand what the author means by saying that "he was a man and a brother, without distinction of color." I sort of understand the history behind the quote but I don't understand what it means in this context.

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Tom is a young man, likely to get dirty.  Remember that at this time, indoor plumbing was not used and daily baths not often taken.   Most of the "washing up" on a daily basis was just a cleaning off of exposed skin.  For a young, active boy like Tom, that means getting ready for Sunday church takes a bit of scrubbing.  He tries to get himself ready, but isn't able to get away all the dirt.  His cousin Mary has to step in to help.

The quote refers to how Tom looks when Mary is done.  He is respectable, able to be seen in public - "a man and a brother".  He is so respectable because the dirt has been removed from his exposed areas - "without distinction of color (i.e., the color of dirt)."  Twain is both tossing in some humor about the dirty nature of young boys, as well as commenting on society, which requires "man" to be clean.

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