Reading Comprehension - Literature: 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer'

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This 1876 novel by Mark Twain is about a boy growing up along the Mississippi River. Set in the 1840s in the fictional town of St. Petersburg, Missouri, the novel describes many of Tom Sawyer's adventures, which he often has with his friend Huckleberry Finn.
1. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Mark Twain
Access Editions
Robert D. Shepherd
EMC/Paradigm Publishing
St. Paul, Minnesota
2. S t a ff Cr ed its:
For E M C/ P ar a di gm P u bl ishi ng, St. Paul, Minnesota
Laurie Skiba Eileen Slater
Editor Editorial Consultant
Shannon O’Donnell Taylor Jennifer J. Anderson
Associate Editor Assistant Editor
For P e no bsc ot S ch ool Pu bl ishi ng, I nc ., Danvers, Massachusetts
E di to ri al D e s i g n a n d P r o d u c t i on
Robert D. Shepherd Charles Q. Bent
President, Executive Editor Production Manager
Christina E. Kolb Sara Day
Managing Editor Art Director
Kim Leahy Beaudet Diane Castro
Editor Compositor
Sara Hyry Janet Stebbings
Editor Compositor
Laurie A. Faria
Associate Editor
Sharon Salinger
Marilyn Murphy Shepherd
Editorial Advisor
ISBN 0-8219-1637-8
Copyright © 1998 by EMC Corporation
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be adapted, reproduced,
stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, elec-
tronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without permis-
sion from the publishers.
Published by EMC/Paradigm Publishing
875 Montreal Way
St. Paul, Minnesota 55102
Printed in the United States of America.
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 xxx 06 05 04 03 02 01 00
3. Table of Contents
The Life and Works of Mark Twain. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . v
Time Line of Twain’s Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vii
The Historical Context of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer . . . ix
Characters in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer . . . . . . . . . . xiii
Illustrations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xvi
Echoes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xviii
Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Chapter 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Chapter 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Chapter 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Chapter 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Chapter 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
Chapter 6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
Chapter 7 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
Chapter 8 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
Chapter 9 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
Chapter 10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
Chapter 11 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
Chapter 12 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78
Chapter 13 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
Chapter 14 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89
Chapter 15 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94
Chapter 16 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100
Chapter 17 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108
Chapter 18 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111
Chapter 19 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119
Chapter 20 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121
Chapter 21 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127
Chapter 22 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133
Chapter 23 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 136
Chapter 24 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141
Chapter 25 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 142
Chapter 26 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 150
Chapter 27 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157
Chapter 28 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160
Chapter 29 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163
Chapter 30 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 170
Chapter 31 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180
Chapter 32 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 188
Chapter 33 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191
4. Chapter 34 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 199
Chapter 35 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 202
Plot Analysis of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer . . . . . . . . 210
Creative Writing Activities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 214
Critical Writing Activities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 216
Projects. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 218
Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 220
Handbook of Literary Terms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 227
Mark Twain
Mark Twain (1835–1910). Born Samuel Langhorne Clemens
in Florida, Missouri, Mark Twain was a humorist, novelist,
reporter, lecturer, travel writer, and licensed riverboat pilot
who became one of the most important writers of American
literature. While working as a riverboat pilot, Clemens
encountered the phrase that later became his pseudonym, or
pen name—Mark Twain. Workers on Mississippi riverboats
called out “mark twain” to indicate that the water was two
Mark Twain
fathoms deep—just barely deep enough for a riverboat.
When Twain was four years old, his family moved from
Florida, Missouri, to the nearby town of Hannibal. Hannibal
lay on the banks of the Mississippi River and became an
important riverboat port. The town not only inspired his
dreams of becoming a riverboat pilot but also served as the
setting for novels such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In these books Twain changed
the name Hannibal to St. Petersburg, meaning “St. Peter’s
town,” or heaven.
When Twain was twelve years old, his father died. Twain
then had to worry about making a living, so he followed his
older brother’s footsteps and left school to learn the printing
trade. He became an apprentice, a person who works for
someone in order to learn a trade or skill, to a printer. At the
age of eighteen, Twain left Hannibal to work as a printer, first
in St. Louis and then in New York. By this time, Twain had
already begun to write and submit pieces to newspapers and
magazines. When he was twenty-one, he went to New
Orleans to depart for a trip to the Amazon River in South
America. The plan fell apart, but Twain was apprenticed by a
Mississippi riverboat pilot, a prestigious job that fulfilled his
childhood dream. Twain worked as a riverboat pilot until the
start of the Civil War. Before the Civil War, the Mississippi
River was a lucrative trading route. When the war interrupted
that trade, Twain was forced to find other work. He volun-
teered as a Confederate soldier but soon deserted and went
west, where he worked as a reporter in Virginia City, Nevada,
and adopted the name Mark Twain. After traveling to San
6. Francisco and continuing his career in journalism, he met fel-
low frontier author Bret Harte, who encouraged Twain’s liter-
ary sketches and stories. In 1865, Twain’s short story “The
Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” was published
in the Saturday Press. This humorous story, a retelling of a
popular nineteenth-century tall tale, won Twain national
recognition as a writer. It focuses on a conversation between
simple, uneducated men living in a frontier mining camp and
is an excellent example of one of Twain’s noted specialties—
regional writing. Twain had a gift for capturing in his writing
regional dialects, or versions of a language spoken by people
of particular places and social groups.
In 1866, Twain took a job at the Union in Sacramento,
California. The Union sent him to the Sandwich Islands, now
Hawaii, as a roving reporter. His comic articles about his trip
established his reputation as a humorist. When Twain
returned, he was able to make a living giving lectures. In 1867,
he traveled aboard the steamship Quaker City on a lecture tour
of Europe, Egypt, and the Holy Land. He later compiled his
lectures from this tour into The Innocents Abroad, a work which
received considerable praise. Twain’s unique background as a
printer, writer, riverboat pilot, and wanderer provided him
with plenty of interesting material on which to base a suc-
cessful career as a writer and lecturer.
In 1870, Twain began a new stage of his life. He married
Olivia Langdon, the daughter of a New York millionaire;
invested in several unsuccessful business ventures; and
moved to Hartford, Connecticut, where he would spend the
rest of his life and write some of his most famous novels
about his experiences on the Mississippi, including The
Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), Life on the Mississippi (1883),
and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884). Today, Huckleberry
Finn is considered Twain’s masterpiece, and it is often called
the great American novel. Twain’s other well-known works
from this period include The Prince and the Pauper (1882), A
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889), and The
Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894).
In the 1890s, Twain suffered a series of misfortunes,
including the deaths of his wife and two of his daughters, and
monetary loss due to failed investments. Twain’s later writ-
ings direct a great degree of bitterness at his fellow human
beings. His most severe criticism, expressed in The War Prayer
and Letters from Earth, was published after his death.
7. Time Line of Twain’s Life
Samuel Langhorne Clemens is born on November 30 in the town of 1835
Florida, Missouri. Halley’s comet appears on the same day.
The Clemens family moves to Hannibal, Missouri. Samuel is four years old. 1839
By this time, the town of Hannibal has become a busy steamboat port on 1846
the Mississippi River. The area eventually serves as the setting for The
Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Clemens’s father dies. Clemens is apprenticed to a printer. 1847
Clemens leaves Hannibal to work as a printer in St. Louis and in New 1853
York. He begins to write and submit some work to newspapers and
Clemens travels to New Orleans intending to sail to South America, but 1854
the plans fall through.
Clemens pursues his childhood dream of working on a steamboat by 1856
becoming an apprentice to a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River. He
eventually becomes a licensed pilot and holds this prestigious position
for nearly three years.
The Civil War breaks out and interrupts trade on the Mississippi River. 1861
Riverboats stop operating, and Clemens is forced to find another job. He
decides to move west.
Clemens adopts the pen name Mark Twain for a piece written for the 1863
Territorial Enterprise of Virginia City, Nevada, where he works as a
Twain moves to California and takes a job as a reporter in San Francisco. 1864
Twain publishes his story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras 1865
County” in the Saturday Press. This story makes him popular and
launches his writing career.
Twain takes a job at the Union in Sacramento, California. He is sent to 1866
the Sandwich Islands, now Hawaii, as a roving reporter. His comic articles
about his trip establish his reputation as a humorist. When he returns, he
makes his living giving lectures.
Twain tours Europe, Egypt, and the Holy Land aboard the steamship 1867
Quaker City.
Twain collects his lectures from his tour aboard the Quaker City in the 1869
collection of sketches called The Innocents Abroad.
Twain marries Olivia Langdon. He also becomes a joint owner and editor 1870
of a newspaper in Buffalo, New York, called the Express.
8. 1872 Twain sells his interest in the newspaper, having lost a great deal of money
on the project. He moves to a comfortable home in Hartford, Connecticut.
Twain becomes a skilled storyteller, turning out a new book every few years.
1873 Twain publishes The Gilded Age, about the years following the Civil War.
1876 Twain publishes The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. With this book, Twain
introduces something new to American fiction—a simple, natural writing
style that resembles the speech of average Americans.
1880 Twain publishes A Tramp Abroad.
1882 Twain publishes The Prince and the Pauper.
1883 Twain publishes Life on the Mississippi. This book is closely based on his
experiences working on riverboats.
1884 Twain publishes Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, long considered his
masterpiece. Of this novel Ernest Hemingway would say, “All modern
literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn.”
1889 Twain publishes A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.
1894 Twain has lost a great deal of money due to bad investments, and he is
forced to declare bankruptcy. He publishes The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead
Wilson and Tom Sawyer Abroad.
1895 Twain goes on a world lecture tour so that he can pay his debts. One of
his daughters dies while he is on the tour.
1896 Twain publishes Tom Sawyer, Detective.
1897 Twain publishes Following the Equator, a book based on his lecture tour.
1898 Twain is able to pay his debts. Nevertheless, his writing becomes increas-
ingly dark and pessimistic.
1900 The short story “The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg,” about greed in a
small town, is published. It is the first of several pieces that show Twain’s
dark and angry side.
1904 Twain’s wife dies.
1909 Twain’s youngest daughter dies.
1910 Mark Twain dies at the age of seventy-five in Redding, Connecticut. That
same week, Halley’s comet appears. Twain always believed that the
appearance of the comet would mark his death as it did his birth.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Regionalism and the Emergence of Realism
The late nineteenth century, the period during which
Mark Twain wrote his most famous novels, was an era char-
acterized by westward expansion. Large numbers of settlers
were moving from the crowded cities of the East and from
lands along the Mississippi River to the unexplored western
frontier in search of better lives. Many of these settlers were
Civil War veterans who, having traveled from home for the
first time during the war, developed a taste for adventure in
different parts of the country. Within a few decades, people
of European descent had established homes across the
American West, from the prairies of Nebraska to the coast of
California. This era was also characterized by the Industrial
Revolution, a period of social and economic change brought
about by the development and increased use of machines
and power tools, and the growth of cities. Industrialism cre-
ated a class of wealthy business people, as well as a class of
city laborers who struggled with poverty and terrible work-
ing conditions.
These changes in the character of the country also
brought about changes in literature. The literature of the
early nineteenth century in America was dominated by
Romanticism and centered in New England. Romantic writ-
ers were usually scholarly and moralistic. Their writing was
sentimental, nostalgic, idealistic, and designed to inspire
lofty emotions. With the expansion across the western fron-
tier, however, writers from the Midwest, the South, and the
West became popular. Many of these writers were women,
such as Sarah Orne Jewett, Kate Chopin, and Mary Wilkins
Freeman. Many were also journalists and adventurers, such
as Mark Twain, Bret Harte, and Stephen Crane. These authors
added diversity to American literature, writing about ranch-
ers, gunfighters, runaway slaves, Civil War soldiers, steam-
boat captains, riverboat gamblers, con artists, pioneer men
and women, millionaire tycoons, and the urban poor.
Twain’s writing incorporates many of these subjects.
10. Out of the new diversity of literature came Regionalism,
or local-color writing. People in the East were eager to read
stories about the American frontier, so many journalists and
humorists like Twain gave them descriptions of the odd
characters who populated the new land. Bret Harte, a sup-
porter of Twain’s work, was one of the first of these regional
writers. Both Harte and Twain wrote humorous pieces that
captured local dialects and described interesting characters
realistically. Regional writing gave rise to an important liter-
ary movement in American literature known as Realism.
Realist writers, instead of creating romantic or overly idealis-
tic portraits of people and places, created realistic, often grim
portraits of the world as they observed it. Twain employed
elements of Realism in his work. He was also skilled, as read-
ers of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer will notice, in using a
variety of dialects in his work.
Tom Sawyer’s Missouri
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is set in the 1830s or 1840s,
before the start of the Civil War in 1861, and at least thirty
years prior to the time in which Twain wrote it. Tom Sawyer’s
town of St. Petersburg, Missouri, is a fictional town modeled
after Twain’s boyhood home of Hannibal, located in north-
eastern Missouri, across the Mississippi River from Illinois. In
fact, Jackson’s Island, the location of one of Tom Sawyer’s
and Huckleberry Finn’s most entertaining adventures, was
actually located near Hannibal, close to the Illinois shore,
but has since been washed away.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer takes place within a period
known as the “great era of steamboats” on the Mississippi
and Missouri Rivers. Indeed, the Mississippi River played a
prominent role in the development of the region and
brought via riverboat a variety of interesting and colorful
characters to such port towns as Hannibal. The riverboats
that fascinated Twain and the young characters in his most
famous novels were shallow boats powered by steam-driven
paddle wheels. These boats, also known as packets, carried
passengers and freight and were important to the economy
of the United States in the nineteenth century, encouraging
people to settle along the Mississippi River. As the United
States continued to expand westward, Missouri sat on the
edge of the nation’s last frontier—adventurous settlers con-
sidered it the gateway to unknown territory. Twain realisti-
cally portrays Tom Sawyer as infected with the excitement
that characterized his place and time in history; throughout
11. the novel Tom reveals his fascination with exploration and
the nearby river.
Racism and Racist Language in Twain’s Missouri
By the 1840s, slavery had virtually disappeared in the
northern states but was still an integral part of the southern
economy. When Missouri requested statehood in 1821, it
was admitted to the union, after much controversy, as a
slave state. Because of its location on the border between the
North and South, however, Missouri’s citizens held oppos-
ing opinions about slavery. After the Civil War broke out,
the conflict over slavery in Missouri resurfaced in bloody
conflicts between proslavery and antislavery forces in the
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is set before the Civil War in
the fictional Missouri town of St. Petersburg. Twain himself
vigorously opposed slavery and racism, but he was dedi-
cated to portraying people and society in a realistic manner.
Thus, Twain realistically presents in Tom Sawyer and in
other works characters who use racist language and who
express racist attitudes. Such language and attitudes were
unfortunately common in Twain’s day. Many contemporary
readers understandably find these references disturbing;
nevertheless, rewriting history or pretending that racism
does not exist and never existed only perpetuates the igno-
rance from which most prejudices and racist attitudes stem.
As American philospher George Santayana wrote, “Those
who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
As you read Tom Sawyer, you will notice racist words and
attitudes that are unacceptable in any contemporary con-
text. While such passages present ignorant, racist attitudes,
they do not condone them; instead, they invite the reader
to examine these attitudes critically and to recognize racism
for the human folly that it is.
Mark Twain and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Mark Twain’s first independent novel, The Adventures of
Tom Sawyer, rose to the top of bestseller lists in 1876 and has
remained one of the most popular books ever published in
the United States. English-language editions of the book
have captured the popular imagination both in the United
States and abroad, and the book has inspired translations in
many different languages. The novel reflects Twain’s nostal-
gia for his childhood. In fact, most of the book’s colorful
12. characters were modeled on people he had known. Becky
Thatcher, Tom Sawyer’s sweetheart, was patterned after
Twain’s first childhood sweetheart. Tom’s Aunt Polly was
based on Twain’s own good-natured mother; Judge
Thatcher, on his father; and the character of Huckleberry
Finn on the son of a village derelict whom Twain knew in
Hannibal. Tom was inspired by Twain’s childhood self and a
combination of his boyhood friends.
As Twain notes in the preface of the book, he wanted The
Adventures of Tom Sawyer to entertain children as well as to
“remind adults of what they once were themselves.” Twain
succeeded in accomplishing this goal. Young readers are usu-
ally drawn into the humor of Tom’s mischievous antics and
the excitement and suspense of his adventures. Older readers
have characterized Tom as the “all-American boy,” and enjoy
reading the humorous and honest accounts of familiar child-
hood experiences, such as getting in and out of trouble at
home and in school, falling in love for the first time, playing
imaginative games, taking risks, and testing independence.
People have long admired the novel for its intricate plot,
captivating characters, realistic language, and honest
insights into human nature.
13. Characters in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Major Characters
Tom Sa w ye r. Tom is an active young boy who often finds
himself involved in mischief and strange adventures. Clever,
imaginative, and rebellious, Tom has the ability to outsmart
Aunt Polly, most of his friends, and his teachers. He is also
sensitive to criticism, especially from Aunt Polly and Becky
Thatcher, and he shows throughout the book that he is capa-
ble of generosity, thoughtfulness, and bravery. Tom often
gets into trouble, but he is honest and genuine, standing in
direct contrast to his half-brother Sid, whose goodness is an
act. Despite the fact that Tom dislikes sitting in school, books
are clearly an important part of his life, inspiring such games
as Robin Hood, pirates, and robbers. The Adventures of Tom
Sawyer is about Tom’s childhood experiences with his friends
and family in the tiny village of St. Petersburg and his per-
sonal growth after several important experiences.
A unt P ol l y. She is Tom’s kind-hearted aunt—a simple
woman who adores Tom and who is deeply religious. Her
love for Tom often prevents her from disciplining him too
harshly, causing her to worry that she is not raising him
properly. Tom knows that it is difficult for her to stay angry
with him and takes full advantage of this fact. Aunt Polly
and Tom have one of the book’s closest, most loving rela-
tionships. When she does scold him or weeps because he is
so mischievous, Tom is devastated, and Aunt Polly can put
up with many of Tom’s antics as long as she knows that he
loves her.
H uc k l eb e r r y Fi nn. Huck is a homeless boy who was aban-
doned by his abusive father and who sleeps in barrels and
doorways and wears men’s clothing that is dirty and too
large for him. Huck smokes, uses vulgar language, never
washes, never attends school or church, and lives a free and
idle life of fishing and swimming that most of the boys in St.
Petersburg envy. Mothers in the community forbid their
sons to play with Huck, but as a result the boys, especially
Tom, play with him every chance they get. Tom and Huck
share an interest in superstition and adventure. Huck’s lit-
eral-mindedness and caution serve as a foil for, or emphasize
by their contrast with, Tom’s imaginative boldness. Tom
admires Huck’s freedom, and Huck admires Tom’s knowledge
of books.
14. B ec k y Tha tc he r. Becky is an attractive girl new to St.
Petersburg with whom Tom quickly falls in love. Her rela-
tionship with Tom is often stormy, but she has a strong effect
on him. Together, the two experience one of the novel’s
most frightening adventures.
Si d. He is Tom’s half-brother. On the surface, Sid is an obe-
dient boy who loves church and school. The reader, how-
ever, quickly discovers that Sid spies on Tom and tattles and
that he is not above allowing Tom to be blamed for some-
thing he himself has done. Sid and Tom battle throughout
the book, and because Sid shares a room with Tom, he always
knows when Tom skips his prayers or sneaks through his
window late at night.
Ma r y. Mary is Tom’s kind and well-behaved cousin. She is
concerned about Tom and gently helps him to learn his Bible
verses for Sunday school. Unlike Sid, she is genuinely kind-
I njun J oe . Injun Joe is the novel’s sinister, ruthless villain
who almost gets away with murder. He adds mystery and an
element of fear to the book.
Mu f f P otte r. Muff is the town vagrant who is hired to rob a
grave and is then falsely accused of murder. He is a weak, ner-
vous character who is easily taken advantage of by villagers
and by Injun Joe. Huck and Tom befriend Muff, helping him
as he sits in jail and when he has his day in court.
J oe H a r p er. Joe is one of Tom’s best friends and the two often
find themselves getting into trouble together. He, along with
Tom and Huck, escapes strict village life to live as a pirate on
Jackson Island.
Wi do w Doug l a s . She is a generous and wealthy woman who
lives in a mansion on Cardiff Hill. Widow Douglas is kind
and takes Huck Finn under her wing when he is ill. Later in
the story, she even takes him to live with her. Although Huck
appreciates her kindness, she lives a quiet, strict life of prayer
and schedules that Huck cannot tolerate.
J ud g e T ha tche r. Judge Thatcher is Becky’s father, considered
an important man in St. Petersburg.
15. Minor Characters
Mr. J ones , the Ol d We l shm a n. He lives on Cardiff Hill, near
Widow Douglas. He and his sons bravely help Huck one
night and in doing so become some of the first people to
treat Huck with respect.
Mr. D ob bi ns. Mr. Dobbins is Tom’s schoolmaster. He is pom-
pous and impatient, frequently punishing the students
severely for minor mistakes and acts of mischief.
Am y L a w r e nce . She was Tom Sawyer’s first love—the first
girl to whom he was “engaged.” News of this past entangle-
ment causes the first fight between Tom and Becky Thatcher.
Al fr e d Te mp l e . He is a new boy from St. Louis whom the
other boys do not like. Becky uses him to make Tom jealous.
Wi l l i e Mu ff e r son. Willie is a boy Tom’s age who carries a
handkerchief and is always polite and well behaved. As a
result, he is hated by boys his own age and loved by parents.
T he R e ve r e nd Mr. Spr a g ue . He is the pastor of the village
church. His sermons are long and boring to Tom, but he is
adored by some people in the church.
D r. R ob i nso n. This man goes grave-robbing with Injun Joe
and Muff Potter and is murdered.
Mr. Wa l ter s. He is the Sunday school superintendent.
B en R og e r s. The first of Tom Sawyer’s peers to be introduced
to the reader, Ben is also the first boy Tom tricks into white-
washing the fence.
17. St. Petersburg is a fictional creation of Mark
Twain, but it is representative of many small
towns that dotted the shores of the Mississippi
River in the 1840s and 1850s. While boats moved
up and down the river, townspeople tended to
their homes, farms, and gardens; attended
church; and sent their children to school. Travel
was often by horse or foot. The pace of life was
slower, but as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
shows, there was plenty of amusement to be had
in a sleepy little river town.
18. Echoes:
Quotations from Mark Twain
On fla tter y: “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”
On golf: “Golf is a good walk spoiled.”
On gr i ef a nd joy: “Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value
from joy you must have somebody to divide it with.”
On hi s own wr it ing: “You don’t know about me without you have read
a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no
matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth,
On hu ma ns : “Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.”
On the des ir e t o tea ch other s to be good: “To be good is noble, but to
teach others how to be good is nobler—and less trouble.”
On obedience: “Of all God’s creatures there is only one that cannot be
made the slave of the lash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed
with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat.”
On pa r ent s : “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant
I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be
twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven
On pol it enes s : “Good breeding consists in concealing how much we
think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person.”
On s chool: “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”
On s u cces s : “All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and
then success is sure.”
19. Preface
Most of the adventures recorded in this book really
occurred; one or two were experiences of my own, the rest
those of boys who were schoolmates of mine. Huck Finn is
drawn from life; Tom Sawyer also, but not from an individ-
ual: he is a combination of the characteristics of three boys
whom I knew, and therefore belongs to the composite order
of architecture.
The odd superstitions touched upon were all prevalent
among children and slaves in the West at the period of this
story; that is to say, thirty or forty years ago.
Although my book is intended mainly for the entertain- √ What does the
ment of boys and girls, I hope it will not be shunned by men author hope that his
and women on that account, for part of my plan has been to book will do?
try to pleasantly remind adults of what they once were them-
selves, and of how they felt and thought and talked, and
what queer1 enterprises they sometimes engaged in.
The Author
Hartford, 1876
1. queer. Strange
Words com • pos • ite (kəm paz´it) adj., formed of distinct parts
Y-o-u-u Tom—Aunt Polly Decides upon her Duty—
Tom Practices Music—The Challenge—
A Private Entrance
No answer.
No answer.
“What’s gone with that boy, I wonder? You Tom!”
No answer.
The old lady pulled her spectacles down and looked over √ What hinders
them about the room; then she put them up and looked out Aunt Polly’s search
for Tom?
under them. She seldom or never looked through them for so
small a thing as a boy; they were her state pair,1 the pride of
her heart, and were built for “style,” not service—she could
have seen through a pair of stove lids just as well. She looked
perplexed for a moment, and then said, not fiercely, but still
loud enough for the furniture to hear:
“Well, I lay if I get hold of you I’ll—”
She did not finish, for by this time she was bending down
and punching under the bed with the broom, and so she
needed breath to punctuate the punches with. She resurrected
nothing but the cat.
“I never did see the beat2 of that boy!”
She went to the open door and stood in it and looked out
among the tomato vines and “jimpson” weeds that consti-
tuted the garden. No Tom. So she lifted up her voice at an
angle calculated for distance, and shouted:
“Y-o-u-u Tom!”
There was a slight noise behind her and she turned just in
time to seize a small boy by the slack of his roundabout3 and
arrest his flight.
“There! I might ’a’ thought of that closet. What you been
doing in there?”
1. state pair. Best pair
2. beat. Person or thing that surpasses expectations
3. slack of his roundabout. Back of his jacket
Words punc • tu • ate (pũk´cho—o āt´) vt., interrupt
For res • ur • rect (rez´´ə rekt´) vt., raise, as from the dead
22. “Nothing.”
“Nothing! Look at your hands. And look at your mouth.
What is that truck?”
“I don’t know, aunt.”
® What is on Tom’s “Well, I know. It’s jam—that’s what it is. Forty times I’ve
face? What does he 5
said if you didn’t let that jam alone I’d skin you. Hand me
do to escape punish- 6
ment? that switch.”
The switch hovered in the air—the peril was desperate.
“My! Look behind you, aunt!”
The old lady whirled round, and snatched her skirts out of
danger. The lad fled on the instant, scrambled up the high
board-fence, and disappeared over it.
® Why is Aunt His Aunt Polly stood surprised a moment, and then broke
Polly’s reaction to into a gentle laugh.
this trick surprising? “Hang the boy, can’t I never learn anything? Ain’t he played
me tricks enough like that for me to be looking out for him by
this time? But old fools is the biggest fools there is. Can’t learn
an old dog new tricks, as the saying is. But, my goodness, he
never plays them alike two days, and how is a body to know
what’s coming? He ’pears to know just how long he can tor-
ment me before I get my dander up, and he knows if he can
make out to put me off for a minute, or make me laugh, it’s all
® Why does Aunt down again, and I can’t hit him a lick.8 I ain’t doing my duty
Polly believe that she by that boy, and that’s the Lord’s truth, goodness knows. Spare
is not raising Tom
the rod and spile9 the child, as the Good Book says. I’m a lay-
properly? What does
she feel that she will ing up sin and suffering for us both, I know. He’s full of the Old
be obliged to do on Scratch,10 but laws-a-me!11 he’s my own dead sister’s boy, poor
Saturday? thing, and I ain’t got the heart to lash him, somehow. Every
time I let him off, my conscience does hurt me so, and every
time I hit him my old heart most breaks. Well-a-well, man that
is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble, as the
Scripture says, and I reckon it’s so. He’ll play hookey12 this
evening, and I’ll just be obleeged13 to make him work, tomorrow,
4. truck. Trash
5. skin. Whip; punish
6. switch. Branch or stick used for whipping or spanking
7. get my dander up. Become angry
8. lick. Bit
9. spile. Spoil
10. Old Scratch. The devil
11. laws-a-me. Good Lord!
12. play hookey. Skip school or work
13. obleeged. Obliged; forced
Words per • il (per´əl) n., danger
23. to punish him. It’s mighty hard to make him work Saturdays,
when all the boys is having holiday, but he hates work more
than he hates anything else, and I’ve got to do some of my duty
by him, or I’ll be the ruination of the child.”
Tom did play hookey, and he had a very good time. He got
back home barely in season to help Jim, the small colored
boy, saw next day’s wood and split the kindlings before sup-
per—at least he was there in time to tell his adventures to
Jim, while Jim did three-fourths of the work. Tom’s younger
brother (or rather, half-brother) Sid, was already through
with his part of the work (picking up chips), for he was a √ How does Sid
quiet boy, and had no adventurous, troublesome ways. differ from Tom?
While Tom was eating his supper, and stealing sugar as
opportunity offered, Aunt Polly asked him questions that
were full of guile and very deep—for she wanted to trap him √ What does Aunt
into damaging revealments. Like many other simple-hearted Polly believe of her-
self? What does she
souls, it was her pet vanity to believe she was endowed with want to trap Tom
a talent for dark and mysterious diplomacy, and she loved to into revealing?
contemplate her most transparent devices as marvels of low
cunning. Said she:
“Tom, it was middling14 warm in school, warn’t it?”
“Powerful warm, warn’t it?”
“Didn’t you want to go in a-swimming, Tom?”
A bit of a scare shot through Tom—a touch of uncomfort-
able suspicion. He searched Aunt Polly’s face, but it told him
nothing. So he said:
“No’m—well, not very much.”
The old lady reached out her hand and felt Tom’s shirt,
and said:
“But you ain’t too warm now, though.”
And it flattered her to reflect that she had discovered that
the shirt was dry without anybody knowing that that was what
she had in her mind. But in spite of her, Tom knew where the √ What does Tom
suspect will be Aunt
wind lay, now. So he forestalled what might be the next move: Polly’s next move?
“Some of us pumped on our heads15—mine’s damp yet. What does he say to
See?” try to trick her?
14. middling. Fairly
15. pumped on our heads. Pumped water over their heads from a water pump
to cool off
Words guile (¯l) n., slyness, craftiness trans • par • ent (trans per´ənt) adj., easily
For en • dow (en dou´) vt., provide with some recognized
Everyday quality fore • stall (fôr stôl´) vt., prevent
24. Aunt Polly was vexed to think she had overlooked that bit
of circumstantial evidence, and missed a trick. Then she had a
new inspiration:
“Tom, you didn’t have to undo your shirt collar where I
sewed it, to pump on your head, did you? Unbutton your
The trouble vanished out of Tom’s face. He opened his
jacket. His shirt collar was securely sewed.
® What does Aunt
“Bother! Well, go ’long with you. I’d made sure you’d
Polly believe? Is she played hookey and been a-swimming. But I forgive ye, Tom.
correct? I reckon you’re a kind of a singed cat, as the saying is—bet-
ter’n you look—this time.”
She was half sorry her sagacity had miscarried, and half
glad that Tom had stumbled into obedient conduct for once.
But Sidney said:
® What does Sid do “Well, now, if I didn’t think you sewed his collar with
to give Tom away?
white thread, but it’s black.”
“Why, I did sew it with white! Tom!”
But Tom did not wait for the rest. As he went out at the
door he said:
“Siddy, I’ll lick you for that.”
In a safe place Tom examined two large needles which
were thrust into the lapels of his jacket, and had thread
bound about them—one needle carried white thread and the
other black. He said:
“She’d never noticed if it hadn’t been for Sid. Confound
it! sometimes she sews it with white, and sometimes she sews
it with black. I wish to geeminy16 she’d stick to one or
t’other—I can’t keep the run of ‘em. But I bet you I’ll lam17
Sid for that. I’ll learn him!”
He was not the Model Boy of the village. He knew the
model boy very well though—and loathed him.
® Why does Tom Within two minutes, or even less, he had forgotten all his
forget his troubles? troubles. Not because his troubles were one whit18 less heavy
On what skill is Tom and bitter to him than a man’s are to a man, but because a
willing to work hard?
Why? new and powerful interest bore them down and drove them
out of his mind for the time—just as men’s misfortunes are
forgotten in the excitement of new enterprises. This new
16. geeminy. Jiminy; oath
17. lam. Beat or hit
18. whit. Bit
Words vex (veks) vt., disturb; annoy con • found (kən found´) vt., curse; used
For singed (sinjd) adj., burned as a mild oath
Everyday sa • gac • i • ty (sə as´ə tē) n., wisdom;
Use intelligence
25. interest was a valued novelty in whistling, which he had just
acquired from a negro, and he was suffering to practice it
undisturbed. It consisted in a peculiar bird-like tune, a sort of
liquid warble, produced by touching the tongue to the roof of
the mouth at short intervals in the midst of the music—the
reader probably remembers how to do it, if he has ever been a
boy. Diligence and attention soon gave him the knack of it,
and he strode down the street with his mouth full of harmony
and his soul full of gratitude. He felt much as an astronomer
feels who has discovered a new planet—no doubt, as far as
strong, deep, unalloyed pleasure is concerned, the advantage
was with the boy, not the astronomer.
The summer evenings were long. It was not dark yet.
Presently Tom checked his whistle. A stranger was before
him—a boy a shade larger than himself. A newcomer of any
age or either sex was an impressive curiosity in the poor lit- √ What about the
tle shabby village of St. Petersburg. This boy was well- new boy upsets Tom?
dressed, too—well-dressed on a week-day. This was simply
astounding. His cap was a dainty thing, his close-buttoned
blue cloth roundabout was new and natty, and so were his
pantaloons.19 He had shoes on—and it was only Friday. He
even wore a necktie, a bright bit of ribbon. He had a citified
air about him that ate into Tom’s vitals. The more Tom stared
at the splendid marvel, the higher he turned up his nose at
his finery and the shabbier and shabbier his own outfit
seemed to him to grow. Neither boy spoke. If one moved, the
other moved—but only sidewise, in a circle; they kept face to
face and eye to eye all the time. Finally Tom said:
“I can lick you!”
“I’d like to see you try it.”
“Well, I can do it.”
“No you can’t, either.”
“Yes I can.”
“No you can’t.”
“I can.”
“You can’t.”
19. pantaloons. Pants
nov • el • ty (no v´əl tē) n., something new, nat • t y (nat´´ē) adj., trim and smart in
Words fresh, or original appearance
dil • i • gence (dil´ə jəns) n., constant and vi • t al s (v¯tlz) n., vital organs, such as
Everyday careful effort heart, brain, lungs, etc.
un • al • loyed (un al´oid) adj., pure
26. An uncomfortable pause. Then Tom said:
“What’s your name?”
“’Tisn’t any of your business, maybe.”
“Well I ’low20 I’ll make it my business.”
“Well why don’t you?”
“If you say much, I will.”
“Much—much—much. There now.”
“Oh, you think you’re mighty smart, don’t you? I could
lick you with one hand tied behind me, if I wanted to.”
“Well why don’t you do it? You say you can do it.”
“Well I will, if you fool with me.”
“Oh yes—I’ve seen whole families in the same fix.”
“Smarty! You think you’re some now, don’t you? Oh, what
a hat!”
“You can lump that hat if you don’t like it. I dare you to
knock it off; and anybody that’ll take a dare will suck eggs.”
“You’re a liar!”
“You’re another.”
“You’re a fighting liar and dasn’t21 take it up.”
“Aw—take a walk!”
“Say—if you give me much more of your sass, I’ll take and
bounce a rock off’n your head.”
“Oh, of course you will.”
“Well I will.”
“Well why don’t you do it then? What do you keep saying
you will for? Why don’t you do it? It’s because you’re afraid.”
“I ain’t afraid.”
“You are.”
“I ain’t.”
“You are.”
Another pause, and more eying and sidling around each
other. Presently they were shoulder to shoulder. Tom said:
“Get away from here!”
“Go away yourself!”
“I won’t.”
“I won’t either.”
® What imaginary So they stood, each with a foot placed at an angle as a
threat do both boys brace, and both shoving with might and main, and glower-
make? ing at each other with hate. But neither could get an advan-
tage. After struggling till both were hot and flushed, each
20. ’low. Allow
21. dasn’t. Don’t dare to
Words si • dle (s¯d´l) vi., move sideways
27. relaxed his strain with watchful caution, and Tom said:
“You’re a coward and a pup. I’ll tell my big brother on
you, and he can thrash you with his little finger, and I’ll
make him do it, too.”
“What do I care for your big brother? I’ve got a brother
that’s bigger than he is—and what’s more, he can throw him
over that fence, too.” [Both brothers were imaginary.]
“That’s a lie.”
“Your saying so don’t make it so.”
Tom drew a line in the dust with his big toe, and said:
“I dare you to step over that, and I’ll lick you till you can’t
stand up. Anybody that’ll take a dare will steal sheep.”
The new boy stepped over promptly, and said:
“Now you said you’d do it, now let’s see you do it.”
“Don’t you crowd me now; you better look out.”
“Well, you said you’d do it—why don’t you do it?”
“By jingo! for two cents I will do it.”
The new boy took two broad coppers22 out of his pocket
and held them out with derision. Tom struck them to the
ground. In an instant both boys were rolling and tumbling
in the dirt, gripped together like cats; and for the space of a
minute they tugged and tore at each other’s hair and clothes,
punched and scratched each other’s noses, and covered
themselves with dust and glory. Presently the confusion took
form, and through the fog of battle Tom appeared, seated
astride the new boy, and pounding him with his fists.
“Holler ’nuff!”23 said he. √ What action on
the part of the new
The boy only struggled to free himself. He was crying—
boy ends the fight?
mainly from rage. Who wins?
“Holler ’nuff!”—and the pounding went on.
At last the stranger got out a smothered “’Nuff!” and Tom
let him up and said:
“Now that’ll learn you. Better look out who you’re fooling
with next time.”
The new boy went off brushing the dust from his clothes,
sobbing, snuffling, and occasionally looking back and shak-
ing his head and threatening what he would do to Tom the
22. coppers. Pennies; coins
23. ’nuff. Enough
Words de • ri • sion (di rizh´ən) n., contempt or ridicule
28. “next time he caught him out.” To which Tom responded
with jeers, and started off in high feather, and as soon as his
back was turned the new boy snatched up a stone, threw it
and hit him between the shoulders, and then turned tail and
ran like an antelope. Tom chased the traitor home, and thus
found out where he lived. He then held a position at the gate
for some time, daring the enemy to come outside, but the
enemy only made faces at him through the window and
declined. At last the enemy’s mother appeared, and called
Tom a bad, vicious, vulgar child, and ordered him away. So he
went away; but he said he “’lowed” to “lay”24 for that boy.
® Whom does Tom He got home pretty late that night, and when he climbed
find waiting for him cautiously in at the window, he uncovered an ambuscade,25
when he climbs into
in the person of his aunt; and when she saw the state his
his window? How is
he going to be forced clothes were in, her resolution to turn his Saturday holiday
to spend his into captivity at hard labor became adamantine in its firmness.
24. lay. Lie in wait for
25. a m bu sca d e . Ambush; surprise
Words vul • gar (vul´ər) adj., crude or indecent
For ad • a • man • tine (ad´ə man´tn̄) adj., unbreakable,
Strong Temptations—Strategic Movements—The
Innocents Beguiled
Saturday morning was come, and all the summer world was
bright and fresh, and brimming with life. There was a song in
every heart; and if the heart was young the music issued at the
lips. There was cheer in every face and a spring in every step.
The locust trees were in bloom and the fragrance of the blos-
soms filled the air. Cardiff Hill, beyond the village and above
it, was green with vegetation, and it lay just far enough away
to seem a Delectable Land, dreamy, reposeful, and inviting.
Tom appeared on the sidewalk with a bucket of whitewash1 √ Why does life
and a long-handled brush. He surveyed the fence, and all glad- seem “hollow” to
Tom and “existence
ness left him, and a deep melancholy settled down upon his
but a burden”?
spirit. Thirty yards of board fence nine feet high! Life to him
seemed hollow, and existence but a burden. Sighing, he dipped
his brush and passed it along the topmost plank; repeated the
operation; did it again; compared the insignificant white-
washed streak with the far-reaching continent of unwhite-
washed fence, and sat down on a tree-box discouraged. Jim
came skipping out at the gate with a tin pail, and singing
“Buffalo Gals.” Bringing water from the town pump had
always been hateful work in Tom’s eyes before, but now it did
not strike him so. He remembered that there was company at
the pump. White, mulatto,2 and negro boys and girls were
always there waiting their turns, resting, trading playthings,
quarrelling, fighting, skylarking.3 And he remembered that
although the pump was only a hundred and fifty yards off, Jim
never got back with a bucket of water under an hour—and
even then somebody generally had to go after him. Tom said:
“Say, Jim, I’ll fetch the water if you’ll whitewash some.” √ What does Tom
Jim shook his head and said: ask Jim to do? Why
won’t Jim do it?
“Can’t, Mars4 Tom. Ole missis, she tole me I got to go an’
git dis water an’ not stop foolin’ roun’ wid anybody. She say
she spec’ Mars Tom gwine to ax me to whitewash, an’ so she
1. whitewash. Mixture of lime, white paint, and water
2. mulatto. Person who has one black parent and one white parent
3. skylarking. Playing
4. Mars. Master, Mr.
Words re • pose • ful (ri pōz´fəl) adj., full of calm and quiet
Everyday mel • an • chol • y (mel´ən kal´ē) n., gloomy sadness
30. tole me go ’long an’ ’tend to my own business—she ’lowed
she’d ’tend to de whitewashin’.”
“Oh, never you mind what she said, Jim. That’s the way
she always talks. Gimme the bucket—I won’t be gone only a
a minute. She won’t ever know.”
“Oh, I dasn’t, Mars Tom. Ole missis she’d take an’ tar de
head off’n me. ’Deed she would.”
“She! She never licks anybody—whacks ’em over the head
with her thimble—and who cares for that, I’d like to know? She
talks awful, but talk don’t hurt—anyways it don’t if she don’t
® What does Tom cry. Jim, I’ll give you a marvel.5 I’ll give you a white alley!”6
do to try to bribe Jim Jim began to waver.
into helping him “White alley, Jim! And it’s a bully taw.”7
“My! Dat’s a mighty gay marvel, I tell you! But, Mars Tom,
I’s powerful ’fraid ole missis—”
“And besides, if you will I’ll show you my sore toe.”
Jim was only human—this attraction was too much for
him. He put down his pail, took the white alley, and bent
over the toe with absorbing interest while the bandage was
being unwound. In another moment he was flying down the
street with his pail and a tingling rear, Tom was whitewash-
ing with vigor, and Aunt Polly was retiring from the field
with a slipper in her hand and triumph in her eye.
® What thought But Tom’s energy did not last. He began to think of the
especially upsets fun he had planned for this day, and his sorrows multiplied.
Tom? Soon the free boys would come tripping along on all sorts of
delicious expeditions, and they would make a world of fun
of him for having to work—the very thought of it burnt him
like fire. He got out his worldly wealth and examined it—bits
of toys, marbles, and trash; enough to buy an exchange of
work, maybe, but not half enough to buy so much as half an
hour of pure freedom. So he returned his straitened means8
to his pocket, and gave up the idea of trying to buy the boys.
At this dark and hopeless moment an inspiration burst upon
him! Nothing less than a great, magnificent inspiration.
® Why is Tom He took up his brush and went tranquilly to work. Ben
dreading the appear- Rogers hove9 in sight presently—the very boy, of all boys,
ance of Ben Rogers?
5. marvel. Playing marble
6. white alley. Type of playing marble
7. bully taw. Fancy marble used to shoot with in playing marbles
8. straitened means. Insufficient amount of money
9. hove. Moved
Words tran • quil • ly (tran´kwil lē) adv., calmly; peacefully
31. whose ridicule he had been dreading. Ben’s gait was the
hop-skip-and-jump—proof enough that his heart was light
and his anticipations high. He was eating an apple, and giv-
ing a long, melodious whoop, at intervals, followed by a
deep-toned ding-dong-dong, ding-dong-dong, for he was
personating a steamboat. As he drew near, he slackened √ What game is
speed, took the middle of the street, leaned far over to star- Ben playing?
board,10 and rounded to ponderously and with laborious
pomp and circumstance11—for he was personating the “Big
Missouri,” and considered himself to be drawing nine feet of
water. He was boat and captain, and engine-bells combined,
so he had to imagine himself standing on his own hurricane-
deck12 giving the orders and executing them:
“Stop her, sir! Ting-a-ling-ling!” The headway ran almost
out and he drew up slowly toward the sidewalk.
“Ship up to back! Ting-a-ling-ling!” His arms straightened
and stiffened down his sides.
“Set her back on the stabboard! Ting-a-ling-ling! Chow!
ch-chow-wow! Chow!” His right hand, meantime, describing
stately circles—for it was representing a forty-foot wheel.
“Let her go back on the labboard! Ting-a-ling-ling! Chow-
ch-chow-chow!” The left hand began to describe circles.
“Stop the stabboard! Ting-a-ling-ling! Stop the labboard!
Come ahead on the stabboard! Stop her! Let your outside
turn over slow! Ting-a-ling-ling! Chow-ow-ow! Get out that
head-line!13 Lively now! Come—out with your spring-line14—
what’re you about there! Take a turn round that stump with
the bight15 of it! Stand by that stage,16 now—let her go! Done
with the engines, sir! Ting-a-ling-ling! Sh’t! s’h’t! sh’t!” (trying
the gauge-cocks).17
Tom went on whitewashing—paid no attention to the
steamboat. Ben stared a moment and then said: “Hi-yi! You’re
up a stump, ain’t you!”
No answer. Tom surveyed his last touch with the eye of
an artist, then he gave his brush another gentle sweep and
10. starboard. Right-hand side of a ship
11. pomp and circumstance. Show and effort
12. hurricane-deck. Upper deck of a passenger ship
13. head-line. Rope for tying a boat to the dock
14. spring-line. Rope attached to a boat’s spar or mast
15. bight. Loop or slack part of a rope
16. stage. Platform
17. gauge-cocks. Valves
Words gait (āt) n., way of walking or running
For per • son • ate (p"r´sə nāt´´) vt., act or play the part of; imitate
Use pon • der • ous • ly (pan´dər əs lē) adv., heavily
32. surveyed the result, as before. Ben ranged up alongside of him.
Tom’s mouth watered for the apple, but he stuck to his work.
Ben said:
“Hello, old chap, you got to work, hey?”
Tom wheeled suddenly and said:
“Why it’s you, Ben! I warn’t noticing.”
“Say—I’m going in a-swimming, I am. Don’t you wish you
could? But of course you’d druther18 work—wouldn’t you?
Course you would!”
Tom contemplated the boy a bit, and said:
“What do you call work?”
“Why, ain’t that work?”
Tom resumed his whitewashing, and answered carelessly:
“Well, maybe it is, and maybe it ain’t. All I know is, it suits
Tom Sawyer.”
“Oh come, now, you don’t mean to let on that you like
The brush continued to move.
® What is Tom’s “Like it? Well, I don’t see why I oughtn’t to like it. Does a
plan for getting other boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?”
boys to whitewash That put the thing in a new light. Ben stopped nibbling
the fence for him?
his apple. Tom swept his brush daintily back and forth—
stepped back to note the effect—added a touch here and
there—criticized the effect again—Ben watching every move
and getting more and more interested, more and more
absorbed. Presently he said:
“Say, Tom, let me whitewash a little.”
Tom considered, was about to consent; but he altered his
® In what way does “No—no—I reckon it wouldn’t hardly do, Ben. You see,
Tom challenge Ben? Aunt Polly’s awful particular about this fence—right here on
the street, you know—but if it was the back fence I wouldn’t
mind and she wouldn’t. Yes, she’s awful particular about this
fence; it’s got to be done very careful; I reckon there ain’t one
boy in a thousand, maybe two thousand, that can do it the
way it’s got to be done.”
“No—is that so? Oh come, now—lemme just try. Only
just a little—I’d let you, if you was me, Tom.”
“Ben, I’d like to, honest injun;19 but Aunt Polly—well, Jim
18. druther. Rather
19. honest injun. Mild oath using a now-offensive corruption of the term
Indian for a Native American
Words con • tem • plate (kan´təm plāt´´) vt., consider, observe
33. wanted to do it, but she wouldn’t let him; Sid wanted to do
it, and she wouldn’t let Sid. Now don’t you see how I’m
fixed? If you was to tackle this fence and anything was to
happen to it—”
“Oh, shucks, I’ll be just as careful. Now lemme try. Say— √ What does Ben
offer Tom in
I’ll give you the core of my apple.” exchange for a
“Well, here—No, Ben, now don’t. I’m afeard—”20 chance to whitewash
“I’ll give you all of it!” 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 inno-
cents. There was no lack of material; boys happened along
every little while; they came to jeer, but remained to white-
wash. By the time Ben was fagged out,21 Tom had traded the √ What “wealth”
does Tom acquire by
next chance to Billy Fisher for a kite, in good repair; and
the middle of the
when he played out, Johnny Miller bought in for a dead rat afternoon?
and a string to swing it with—and so on, and so on, hour
after hour. And when the middle of the afternoon came,
from being a poor poverty-stricken boy in the morning, Tom
was literally rolling in wealth. He had besides the things
before mentioned, twelve marbles, part of a jew’s-harp,22 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.
He had had a nice, good, idle time all the while—plenty
of company—and the fence had three coats of whitewash on √ What was the
it! If he hadn’t run out of whitewash, he would have bank- only thing that pre-
vented Tom from con-
rupted every boy in the village. tinuing his scheme?
Tom said to himself that it was not such a hollow world,
after all. He had discovered a great law of human action, with- √ What “great law
of human action”
out knowing it—namely, that in order to make a man or a boy
does Tom discover?
covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult
to attain. If he had been a great and wise philosopher, like the
20. afeard. Afraid
21. fagged out. Tired
22. jew’s-harp. Small musical instrument clamped between the teeth and
strummed, producing a twanging sound
Words a • lac • ri • ty (ə lak´rə tē) n., eager will- cov • et (kuv´it) vt., long for with envy
For ingness; readiness at • tain (ə tān´) vt., accomplish; achieve
Everyday di • lap • i • dat • ed (də lap´ə dāt´´id)
adj., shabby; falling to pieces
34. ® What, according writer of this book, he would now have comprehended that
to that “great and Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that
wise philosopher . . .
the writer of this
Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do. And this
book,” is the differ- would help him to understand why constructing artificial
ence between work flowers or performing on a treadmill is work, while rolling ten-
and play? pins21 or climbing Mont Blanc is only amusement. There are
wealthy gentlemen in England who drive four-horse passen-
ger-coaches twenty or thirty miles on a daily line in the sum-
mer, because the privilege costs them considerable money; but
if they were offered wages for the service, that would turn it
into work, and then they would resign.
The boy mused a while over the substantial change which
had taken place in his worldly circumstances, and then
wended toward head-quarters to report.
23. rolling ten-pins. Bowling
Words o • blige (ə blj̄´) vt., force or command to do
wend (wend) vt., proceed or go on one’s way
Tom as a General—Triumph and Reward—Dismal
Felicity—Commission and Omission
Tom presented himself before Aunt Polly, who was sitting
by an open window in a pleasant rearward apartment, which
was bedroom, breakfast-room, dining-room, and library com-
bined. The balmy summer air, the restful quiet, the odor of the
flowers, and the drowsing murmur of the bees, had had their
effect, and she was nodding over her knitting—for she had no
company but the cat, and it was asleep in her lap. Her specta-
cles were propped up on her gray head for safety. She had √ What does Aunt
thought that of course Tom had deserted long ago, and she Polly suspect that
Tom has done?
wondered at seeing him place himself in her power again in
this intrepid way. He said: “Mayn’t I go and play now, aunt?”
“What, a’ready? How much have you done?”
“It’s all done, aunt.”
“Tom, don’t lie to me—I can’t bear it.”
“I ain’t, aunt; it is all done.”
Aunt Polly placed small trust in such evidence. She went out √ In what does
to see for herself; and she would have been content to find Aunt Polly put little
trust? What would
twenty per cent of Tom’s statement true. When she found the have satisfied her?
entire fence whitewashed, and not only whitewashed but elab-
orately coated and recoated, and even a streak added to the
ground, her astonishment was almost unspeakable. She said:
“Well, I never! There’s no getting round it, you can work
when you’re a mind to, Tom.” And then she diluted the com-
pliment by adding, “But it’s powerful seldom you’re a mind
to, I’m bound to say. Well, go ’long and play; but mind you
get back some time in a week, or I’ll tan you.”
She was so overcome by the splendor of his achievement √ What does Tom
that she took him into the closet and selected a choice apple do while Aunt Polly
lectures him on the
and delivered it to him, along with an improving lecture upon value of things
the added value and flavor a treat took to itself when it came gained through virtu-
without sin through virtuous effort. And while she closed with ous effort?
a happy scriptural flourish, he “hooked” a doughnut.
Then he skipped out, and saw Sid just starting up the outside √ Why does Tom
stairway that led to the back rooms on the second floor. Clods1 throw dirt clods at
Sid? What has Sid
1. Clods. Clumps of dirt
done to him?
Words in • trep • id (in trep´id) adj., fearless; brave
For !
Everyday di • lute (di lo—ot´) vt., weaken by mixing with something
Use else
36. were handy, and the air was full of them in a twinkling. They
raged around Sid like a hailstorm; and before Aunt Polly could
collect her surprised faculties and sally to the rescue, six or
seven clods had taken personal effect, and Tom was over the
fence and gone. There was a gate, but as a general thing he was
too crowded for time to make use of it. His soul was at peace,
now that he had settled with Sid for calling attention to his
black thread and getting him into trouble.
Tom skirted the block, and came round into a muddy alley
that led by the back of his aunt’s cow stable. He presently got
safely beyond the reach of capture and punishment, and
hasted toward the public square of the village, where two
“military” companies of boys had met for conflict, according
to previous appointment. Tom was general of one of these
armies, Joe Harper (a bosom friend), general of the other.
These two great commanders did not condescend to fight in
person—that being better suited to the still smaller fry—but
sat together on an eminence and conducted the field opera-
tions by orders delivered through aides-de-camp.2 Tom’s army
won a great victory, after a long and hard-fought battle. Then
the dead were counted, prisoners exchanged, the terms of the
next disagreement agreed upon and the day for the necessary
battle appointed; after which the armies fell into line and
marched away, and Tom turned homeward alone.
As he was passing by the house where Jeff Thatcher lived,
® In what sense he saw a new girl in the garden—a lovely little blue-eyed
does Tom fall without creature with yellow hair plaited3 into two long tails, white
anyone firing a shot? summer frock and embroidered pantalettes. The fresh-
crowned hero fell without firing a shot. A certain Amy
Lawrence vanished out of his heart and left not even a mem-
ory of herself behind. He had thought he loved her to dis-
traction; he had regarded his passion as adoration; and
behold it was only a poor little evanescent partiality. He had
been months winning her; she had confessed hardly a week
ago; he had been the happiest and the proudest boy in the
world only seven short days, and here in one instant of time
she had gone out of his heart like a casual stranger whose
visit is done.
He worshipped this new angel with furtive eye, till he saw
2. aides-de-camp. Military assistants
3. plaited. Braided
Words con • de • scend (kon´´di send´) vi., stoop par • ti • al • i • ty (par´shē al´ə tē) n.,
For em • i • nence (em´i nəns) n., high place fondness or liking
Everyday ev • a • nes • cent (ev´ə nes´ənt) adj., fur • tive (f"r´tiv) adj., sneaky
Use tending to fade from sight; vanishing
37. that she had discovered him; then he pretended he did not
know she was present, and began to “show off” in all sorts of
absurd boyish ways, in order to win her admiration. He kept
up this grotesque foolishness for some time; but by and by,
while he was in the midst of some dangerous gymnastic per-
formances, he glanced aside and saw that the little girl was
wending her way toward the house. Tom came up to the
fence and leaned on it, grieving, and hoping she would tarry
yet awhile longer. She halted a moment on the steps and
then moved toward the door. Tom heaved a great sigh as she
put her foot on the threshold. But his face lit up, right away, √ Why do you think
for she tossed a pansy over the fence a moment before she the new girl throws
disappeared. the pansy over the
The boy ran around and stopped within a foot or two of
the flower, and then shaded his eyes with his hand and
began to look down street as if he had discovered something
of interest going on in that direction. Presently he picked up
a straw and began trying to balance it on his nose, with his
head tilted far back; and as he moved from side to side, in his √ How does Tom
efforts, he edged nearer and nearer toward the pansy; finally pick up the flower?
his bare foot rested upon it, his pliant toes closed upon it,
and he hopped away with the treasure and disappeared
round the corner. But only for a minute—only while he
could button the flower inside his jacket, next his heart—or
next his stomach, possibly, for he was not much posted in
anatomy, and not hypercritical, anyway.
He returned, now, and hung about the fence till nightfall,
“showing off,” as before; but the girl never exhibited herself
again, though Tom comforted himself a little with the hope
that she had been near some window, meantime, and been
aware of his attentions. Finally he strode home reluctantly,
with his poor head full of visions.
All through supper his spirits were so high that his aunt
wondered “what had got into the child.” He took a good
scolding about clodding Sid, and did not seem to mind it in
the least. He tried to steal sugar under his aunt’s very nose,
and got his knuckles rapped for it. He said:
“Aunt, you don’t whack Sid when he takes it.”
“Well, Sid don’t torment a body the way you do. You’d be
always into that sugar if I warn’t watching you.”
Words ab • surd (ab s"rd´) adj., ridiculous
For pli • ant (pl¯´ənt) adj., easily bent
Everyday hy • per • crit • i • cal (h¯´pər krit´ i kəl) adj., hard to please;
Use severe in judgment
38. Presently she stepped into the kitchen, and Sid, happy in
his immunity, reached for the sugar-bowl—a sort of glorying
® What causes Tom over Tom which was well-nigh4 unbearable. But Sid’s fingers
to feel ecstasy? slipped and the bowl dropped and broke. Tom was in
ecstasies. In such ecstasies that he even controlled his tongue
and was silent. He said to himself that he would not speak a
word, even when his aunt came in, but would sit perfectly
still till she asked who did the mischief; and then he would
tell, and there would be nothing so good in the world as to
see that pet model “catch it.” He was so brimful of exultation
® What does Aunt that he could hardly hold himself when the old lady came
Polly assume? back and stood above the wreck discharging lightnings of
wrath from over her spectacles. He said to himself, “Now it’s
coming!” And the next instant he was sprawling on the
floor! The potent palm was uplifted to strike again when
Tom cried out:
“Hold on, now, what ’er you belting me for?—Sid broke
Aunt Polly paused, perplexed, and Tom looked for healing
pity. But when she got her tongue again, she only said:
® What justification “Umf! Well, you didn’t get a lick amiss, I reckon. You been
does Aunt Polly give
for striking Tom?
into some other audacious mischief when I wasn’t around,
like enough.”
Then her conscience reproached her, and she yearned to
say something kind and loving; but she judged that this
would be construed into a confession that she had been in
the wrong, and discipline forbade that. So she kept silence
and went about her affairs with a troubled heart. Tom sulked
® What gratifies, or in a corner and exalted his woes. He knew that in her heart
pleases, Tom? What his aunt was on her knees to him, and he was morosely grat-
does he imagine ified by the consciousness of it. He would hang out no sig-
nals, he would take notice of none. He knew that a yearning
glance fell upon him now and then, through a film of tears,
but he refused recognition of it. He pictured himself lying
sick unto death and his aunt bending over him beseeching
one little forgiving word, but he would turn his face to the
wall, and die with that word unsaid. Ah, how would she feel
then? And he pictured himself brought home from the river,
4. well-nigh. Almost
im • mu • ni • ty (im myo—on´´ i tē) n., free- au • da • cious (ô dā´´shəs) adj., bold
Words !
dom from punishment con • strue (kən stro—o ´) vt., take to mean
Everyday ex • ul • ta • tion (e´zul tā´´shən) n., triumph mo • rose • ly (mə rōs´´lē) adv., gloomily
Use po • tent (pōt´´nt) adj., powerful
39. dead, with his curls all wet, and his sore heart at rest. How
she would throw herself upon him, and how her tears would
fall like rain, and her lips pray God to give her back her boy,
and she would never, never abuse him any more! But he
would lie there cold and white and make no sign—a poor lit-
tle sufferer, whose griefs were at an end. He so worked upon
his feelings with the pathos of these dreams that he had to
keep swallowing—he was so like to choke; and his eyes swam
in a blur of water, which overflowed when he winked, and
ran down and trickled from the end of his nose. And such a
luxury to him was this petting of his sorrows, that he could
not bear to have any worldly cheeriness or any grating
delight intrude upon it; it was too sacred for such contact;
and so, presently, when his cousin Mary danced in, all alive
with the joy of seeing home again after an age-long visit of
one week to the country, he got up and moved in clouds and
darkness out at one door as she brought song and sunshine
in at the other.
He wandered far from the accustomed haunts of boys, and
sought desolate places that were in harmony with his spirit.
A log raft in the river invited him, and he seated himself on
its outer edge and contemplated the dreary vastness of the
stream, wishing, the while, that he could only be drowned,
all at once and unconsciously, without undergoing the
uncomfortable routine devised by nature. Then he thought
of his flower. He got it out, rumpled and wilted, and it might- √ In what sense is
ily increased his dismal felicity. He wondered if she would Tom both dismal, or
pity him if she knew? Would she cry, and wish that she had unhappy, and full of
felicity, or happiness?
a right to put her arms around his neck and comfort him? Or
would she turn coldly away like all the hollow world? This
picture brought such an agony of pleasurable suffering that
he worked it over and over again in his mind and set it up in
new and varied lights, till he wore it threadbare. At last he
rose up sighing and departed in the darkness.
About half-past nine or ten o’clock he came along the
deserted street to where the Adored Unknown lived; he
paused a moment; no sound fell upon his listening ear; a
candle was casting a dull glow upon the curtain of a second
story window. Was the sacred presence there? He climbed the
fence, threaded his stealthy way through the plants, till he
pa • thos (pā´´thas) n., pitiable tragedy
For dis • mal (diz ´məl) adj., gloomy; miserable
Everyday fe • lic • i • ty (fə lis´´i tē) n., happiness
Use stealth • y (stel´´thē) adj., secret or sly
40. stood under that window; he looked up at it long, and with
emotion; then he laid him down on the ground under it, dis-
posing himself upon his back, with his hands clasped upon
® What does Tom his breast and holding his poor wilted flower. And thus he
wonder in his would die—out in the cold world, with no shelter over his
moment of self-pity?
homeless head, no friendly hand to wipe the death-damps5
from his brow, no loving face to bend pityingly over him
when the great agony came. And thus she would see him
when she looked out upon the glad morning, and oh! would
she drop one little tear upon his poor, lifeless form, would
she heave one little sigh to see a bright young life so rudely
blighted, so untimely cut down?
The window went up, a maid-servant’s discordant voice
profaned the holy calm, and a deluge of water drenched the
prone martyr’s remains!
The strangling hero sprang up with a relieving snort.
There was a whiz as of a missile in the air, mingled with the
murmur of a curse, a sound as of shivering glass followed,
and a small, vague form went over the fence and shot away
in the gloom.
Not long after, as Tom, all undressed for bed, was survey-
® Why does Sid ing his drenched garments by the light of a tallow dip,6 Sid
decide not to start woke up; but if he had any dim idea of making any “refer-
an argument with ences to allusions,”7 he thought better of it and held his
Tom? Of what, how-
ever, does Sid make
peace, for there was danger in Tom’s eye.
a “mental note”? Tom turned in without the added vexation of prayers, and
Sid made mental note of the omission.
5. death-damps. Sweat perspired in the throes of death
6. tallow dip. Candle
7. making . . . allusions. Hinting about or mentioning what has occurred
Words blight • ed (bl¯t´´id) adj., destroyed del • uge (del´yo—oj´) n., flood
For dis • cord • ant (dis kôrd´´nt) adj., mar • tyr (mart´´ər) n., person who suffers for
Everyday harshly noisy his or her beliefs
Use pro • fane (prō fān´´) vt., treat with disrespect