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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What is the most interesting incident in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer?

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Speaking personally, I would say that I find the incident with the bible tickets as the most interesting for the same reason as the previous contributor: it gives us insight into Tom's entrepreneurial character (as well as his seemingly endless capacity for mischief).

The children at Tom's Sunday School are awarded different colored tickets for every bible verse they can recite. If they manage to collect one thousand tickets, then they'll be given a Dore Bible as a prize. Tom has no chance of winning the prize. His memory is much too bad, and he's also chronically lazy. Try as he might, he just can't make any progress. What he needs is an incentive. And it duly arrives in the shape of Becky Thatcher, Judge Thatcher's daughter. Soon, Tom becomes hopelessly smitten with the girl and wants to impress her. What better way to do this than by winning the prized Dore Bible?

But Tom, being Tom, doesn't go about collecting tickets in the ordinary way; that would be too much like hard work. So he trades stuff to get tickets. For a prized yellow ticket, Tom is prepared to trade a piece of licorice and a fishhook. For three red tickets, he hands over a couple of white alleys, or marbles. After bumping into another few boys on his way to church, Tom manages to get his hands on yet more tickets, enough to win the Dore Bible. There's just one problem: Tom's expected to recite a bible verse chosen at random by the superintendent, and he doesn't have a clue what to say. The whole embarrassing episode speaks volumes about Tom Sawyer: unfailingly resourceful and ever so smart, but a little too clever by half.

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That's a really hard question, because "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" is so full of interesting incidents.  It is hard to just pick one.  I have always liked the opening fence painting sequence though.  

The previous day Tom skipped school, got in a fight, and came home really dirty.  As a punishment Tom is made to whitewash a fence.  He is sorely disappointed at his punishment, but he turns it around in his favor.  Boys come along to tease him about having to paint the fence, but Tom makes them think they are missing out on something by not painting the fence.  Tom convinces boy after boy to trade some treasure of theirs for the privilege of painting the fence.  

Tom gave up the brush with reluctance in his face, but alacrity in his heart. And while the late steamer Big Missouri worked and sweated in the sun, the retired artist sat on a barrel in the shade close by, dangled his legs, munched his apple, and planned the slaughter of more innocents. There was no lack of material; boys happened along every little while; they came to jeer, but remained to whitewash.

It's a great sequence because it shows how powerfully influential Tom is and how entrepreneurial he can be. 

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