When Tom and Huck decide never to tell about the murder they saw, what do they seal their agreement with?

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hmassman eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Interesting question! In the book The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn witness a murder. Because the boys are afraid of the murderer, they make an oath with one another to never tell.

In the book, Tom and Huck witness a murder; however, they decide to make an oath to never tell. Tom and Huck are afraid that the murderer, Injun Joe, might also murder them if they tell. As Huck reveals:

“What are you talking about? S’pose something happened and Injun Joe DIDN’T hang? Why, he’d kill us some time or other, just as dead sure as we’re a laying here.”


“Tom, we GOT to keep mum. You know that. That Injun devil wouldn’t make any more of drownding us than a couple of cats, if we was to squeak ‘bout this and they didn’t hang him.”

Thus, the boys make an oath to not tell anyone about the murder. Instead of making a simple verbal oath, the boys determine to finalize their promise by writing the oath down and signing it in their own blood. As the text reveals:

“So Tom unwound the thread from one of his needles, and each boy pricked the ball of his thumb and squeezed out a drop of blood. In time, after many squeezes, Tom managed to sign his initials, using the ball of his little finger for a pen. Then he showed Huckleberry how to make an H and an F, and the oath was complete. “

Consequently, after Tom and Huck witness the murder, they make an oath not to tell anyone. Although they are adventurous characters, their fear of Injun Joe incites their refusal to tell about the events from that night. They finalize their agreement by writing the oath and signing it in their own blood.

Read the study guide:
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

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