Mark Twain's classic 19th century novel tells the story of Tom Sawyer, a wild young boy who grows up on the Mississippi River. The story is interconnected by a series of chapter "vignettes," usually highly dramatic and of a comic nature. One of the most famous is the whitewashing scene where Tom convinces some friends by the use of reverse psychology to paint his fence--for a price. Tom not only gets out of the work he hates, but earns trade items from his gullible friends. Tom falls for Becky Thatcher, the daughter of a local judge. Tom's best friend is the even more untamed Huckleberry Finn; while hanging out in the cemetery one night, they witness Injun Joe stab and kill the local doctor. The boys swear not to reveal what they have seen, but when an innocent man is accused, Tom's and Huck's consciences get the best of them. After the boys take a lengthy raft trip down the river pretending to be pirates--and are later believed drowned by the town--the boys return home just in time to see their own funerals. They eventually decide to testify in court, naming Injun Joe as the killer, who escapes the courtroom.
While looking for gold in an abandoned, haunted house, the hidden boys discover the disguised Injun Joe, who is burying some stolen money. In doing so, Joe finds another treasure of gold. Joe takes the money to hide it elsewhere; Tom and Huck decide to keep an eye on Joe in the hope of discovering where he hides the treasure. Later, Tom and Becky take in a picnic and decide to explore some caves, in which they get lost. Inside, they see Injun Joe, but Tom and Becky manage to elude him and eventually escape. When Tom and Huck hear later that the cave entrances have been sealed, they realize that Injun Joe must have been left inside--possibly with the hidden treasure. When Tom and Huck return to search the caves, they find the treasure. They become local heroes and the richest boys in town. Huck, however, cannot stand the thought of being civilized, and he decides to escape back to his old ways--setting the stage for Twain's classic followup novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.