The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Questions and Answers
by Mark Twain

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Why was Jim so reluctant in letting Tom take away the tin pail in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer?

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Jim was reluctant in letting Tom take away the tin pail because Tom was attempting to swap chores with Jim. He tells Jim that he will take the pail to fetch water for Jim as well as give him a white marble if he white washes the fence for just a short amount of time. Tom is rueful of his work, and is looking for even the most momentary distraction to escape it.

Jim is so reluctant because Aunt Polly has anticipated that Tom will attempt precisely what he is attempting. She has threatened a beating to Jim if he stops to "fool 'round" with anyone. Sure enough, when Tom's powers of persuasion overcome Jim, Polly is out chasing him off in the next moment, and Tom is back to washing the fence.

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