Illustration of a hand holding a paintbrush that is painting a fence white

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

by Mark Twain
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Who are the main characters in "Strong Temptations" by Mark Twain, and why?

Based on the number of trade items that Tom receives, it is clear to readers that he convinced more than those three named boys to help paint the fence; however, readers are not given their names in this chapter: "

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"Strong Temptations" is the chapter 2 title from the book The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Interestingly, not all editions of the book include this chapter title. Some editions don't title the chapters at all while other editions use alternative titles.

I would support the idea that Tom Sawyer is...

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"Strong Temptations" is the chapter 2 title from the book The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Interestingly, not all editions of the book include this chapter title. Some editions don't title the chapters at all while other editions use alternative titles.

I would support the idea that Tom Sawyer is the only main protagonist in this chapter. Other characters exist, but they are much more minor to Tom throughout this entire section. This chapter is the famous chapter that sees Tom convincing many of the other children to pay him for the privilege of whitewashing the fence. Jim initially comes along, and Tom is able to convince him to help out; however, Aunt Polly puts a stop to that. Next up is Ben Rogers, and Tom is able to miraculously convince him take over the fence painting. By the time that Ben is tired out, Tom has lined up Billy Fisher to do the job followed by Johnny Miller:

There was no lack of material; boys happened along every little while; they came to jeer, but remained to whitewash. By the time Ben was fagged out, Tom had traded the next chance to Billy Fisher for a kite, in good repair; and when he played out, Johnny Miller bought in for a dead rat and a string to swing it with—and so on, and so on, hour after hour.

Based on the number of trade items that Tom receives, it is clear to readers that he convinced more than those three named boys to help paint the fence; however, readers are not given their names in this chapter:

He had besides the things before mentioned, twelve marbles, part of a jews-harp, a piece of blue bottle-glass to look through, a spool cannon, a key that wouldn’t unlock anything, a fragment of chalk, a glass stopper of a decanter, a tin soldier, a couple of tadpoles, six fire-crackers, a kitten with only one eye, a brass doorknob, a dog-collar—but no dog—the handle of a knife, four pieces of orange-peel, and a dilapidated old window sash.

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“Strong Temptations” is from chapter two of Mark Twain’s book The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Tom is the main character of the chapter. Throughout the chapter, Tom plays the key role of tricking other characters into doing his work for him. Although Aunt Polly assigns the work of whitewashing the fence to Tom, Tom creatively convinces other supporting characters to do his work. The chapter clearly focuses around Tom while the supporting characters only briefly emerge.

Ben and other boys (such as Jim)  are the supporting characters in the chapter. Although Ben is not a main character, Ben is an important supporting character because he (and other supporting characters) eventually whitewashes the fence for Tom. Not only does Tom convince Ben to do the work for him, Ben also gives him reimbursement for “allowing” him to whitewash the fence. Many supporting characters do this as well. For example, Tom receives: “twelve marbles, part of a jews-harp, a piece of blue bottle-glass to look through, a spool cannon, a key that wouldn't unlock anything, a fragment of chalk, a glass stopper of a decanter, a tin soldier, a couple of tadpoles, six fire-crackers, a kitten with only one eye, a brass door-knob, a dog-collar—but no dog—the handle of a knife, four pieces of orange-peel, and a dilapidated old window sash.” This demonstrates Tom’s ability to be persuasive and his manipulation of the supporting characters. 

As this clearly shows, Tom is the main character of the chapter and even the entire book The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Tom is also quite a creative character who accomplishes a lengthy amount of noteworthy accomplishments.

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The main character is Tom Sawyer. He is a young hooligan from a Southern town in the 19th century. In this chapter, he attempts to get out of whitewashing (painting) the fence by convincing various boys that it is loads of fun, and if they pay him they can do it too. It works!
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