Discuss the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This question is asking for a standard plot chart/diagram explanation. Doing that with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a bit awkward because the book is composed of a bunch of different "adventures" that sometimes intersect and sometimes don't. This causes various adventures to have a climax independent of another adventure. Regardless of that, I believe that readers get a solid exposition of Tom in the first few chapters when we see Tom doing things like stealing from the jam jar and convincing kids to pay him for the "privilege" of whitewashing the fence.

Being the adventure book that it is, the rising actions abound and include Tom witnessing a murder, testifying at a trial, being trapped in a cave, and seeing Injun Joe at the haunted house.

Picking a single climax is possible, but it might be up for debate among various readers. I believe it is the end of the trapped in the cave rising action sequence. Tom realizes that Injun Joe is there with them, and Tom and Becky narrowly escape.

The falling action and conclusion sees the townspeople finding Joe dead, Tom finding the treasure, and Huck being taken in by the Widow Douglas.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The exposition is the part of a story where background information on the characters and situations is presented.  Although the plot structure of "Adventures of Tom Sawyer" is a little different from the traditional in that it is made up in parts by a series of vignettes, I would say that the first seven chapters, in which the characters and their personalities are introduced, might serve as exposition for the main storyline. 

The climax, or point at which the main conflict reaches its greatest intensity, would be when Tom and Becky disappear on their excursion to the caves in Chapter XXXIX, and the resolution, when the main conflict is resolved, would take place in the final three chapters, when Tom and Becky are found, Injun Joe's fate is revealed, and Huck is taken in by the Widow Douglass. 

The rising action is the development of the plot from the exposition to the climax, or, in other words, everything that occurs between those two points.  In this particular book, the rising action would include the murder at the graveyard, the trial of Muff Potter, and the boys' search for the treasure and Injun Joe.  The falling action is everything that occurs between the climax and the resolution, and includes the search for Tom and Becky and Tom's "funeral". 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial