The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

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Chapter 5 Summary

When Sunday school is over, the church service begins. Tom, Sid, and Mary go to sit with Aunt Polly, who places Tom by the aisle to keep his daydream-prone mind as far as possible from the window. The other church members enter, including the rich and generous Widow Douglas, the mayor and his wife, and the justice of the peace. The town’s model boy, Willie Mufferson, escorts his mother to her pew as always. Tom and the rest of the boys hate Willie because he acts perfect all the time, and because their parents always tell them to act like him.

The Reverend Mr. Sprague reads a hymn, allowing his voice to rise ever upward and then drop “as if from a spring-board” at the ends of his sentences. This is his strange habit while reading, and all the adults in town think it sounds wonderful. Ladies are always inviting him to parties, asking him to read poetry aloud, and saying that he makes it sound beautiful.

After the hymn, the minister makes a few announcements and then says a prayer. This is, as always, a “generous prayer” that includes every imaginable person, including Christians and heathens and the President of the United States and Europeans and Orientals and about a million others. Tom does not really listen, but he has the list more or less memorized. He always notices whenever Mr. Sprague makes any additions. To his mind, extra words are “unfair, and scoundrelly” because they increase the length of the ordeal.

Next comes the sermon, the longest and most boring part of the church service. Tom generally ignores the content, but today he listens for a little while because the minister talks about a lion and a lamb lying down together. Tom thinks this sounds pretty neat, but the minister’s point is lost on him. When the minister moves on to less colorful ideas, Tom loses all interest. He pulls a box out of his...

(The entire section is 508 words.)