Adventures of Tom Sawyer Study Guide

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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer By Mark Twain

Tom Sawyer lives with his Aunt Polly and his half-brother Sid, in St. Petersburg, MO. One Friday, after playing hooky and getting in a fight, Tom is forced to whitewash a fence on Saturday -- his day off -- as punishment. Being a clever boy, he connives his friends into giving him things in exchange for doing his work for him. He trades up his new acquisitions until obtains a Bible which is given as a prize for being an excellent Sunday School student, but then loses the prestige when he names the first two disciples of Jesus as David and Goliath.

At church, Tom first meets Becky Thatcher, whom he promptly falls in love with and convinces to get "engaged" with. When Becky learns that Tom has been "engaged" before, she shuns Tom, who goes to meet his friend Huckleberry Finn instead. The two go out to the town graveyard at midnight to try a superstitious cure for warts. While there, they witness a murder - young Dr. Robinson being killed by the half-white, half-Native-American Injun Joe. The two run, and swear an oath to never share what they have seen, but when Injun Joe blames the crime on a helpless drunkard, Tom begins to wonder if he should break his oath.

To escape his anxiety, Tom gathers a few friends to run away and become pirates. While they're gone, they learn that their community is searching for their bodies in the river. Tom sneaks back into town and sees everyone mourning, but before he can feel guilty, he has the idea of crashing his own funeral, and he convinces his friends to do the same. They return, and the town rejoices.

Soon back in school, Tom wins Becky's favor by taking the fall for an accident in which she tore her schoolbook. Tom then testifies against Injun Joe in court, but Injun Joe escapes through a courtroom window and runs. Fast forward to the start of summer.

Tom and Huck are hunting for treasure in a haunted house. As they explore upstairs, they hear a noise below, and see Injun Joe skulking around in disguise. Injun Joe and an unkempt companion plan to bury some treasure they have stolen. As Tom and Huck watch and anticipate digging up the treasure, Injun Joe and his companion actually find buried treasure themselves, right where they were already digging! They also come across Tom and Huck's tools, and get suspicious, and take all of the treasure away rather than reburying it.

Huck starts following Injun Joe at night, looking for a chance to snag the gold. Meanwhile, Tom's class goes on a field trip to McDougal's Cave, and Tom flirts with Becky some more. That night, Huck hears Injun Joe and his partner planning to attack the Widow Douglas, and Huck fetches help, preventing the attack and becoming something of an anonymous hero.

Tom and Becky, that same night, get lost in the cave, but no one notices until morning. The search for them begins, but with no luck. Tom and Becky soon run out of food and candles, and begin to panic. The tension peaks as Tom, searching for a way out, stumbles upon Injun Joe, who has been hiding in the depths of McDougal's Cave. Just as the searchers are giving up, Tom stumbles upon a way out.

Becky's father, Judge Thatcher, hears about Injun Joe from Tom, and orders the cave sealed shut. Joe's mysterious partner drowns as he tries to escape, and Injun Joe finally starves to death trapped in the cave. Once it's save, Tom shows Huck how to get back into the cave (through the entrance Tom found earlier), and they find the gold they had seen earlier.

The Widow Douglas adopts Huck, but Huck tries to escape. Tom promises Huck that if he stays with the Widow Douglas, he can be part of Tom's gang, and Huck agrees to let the Widow Douglas civilize him in exchange for membership.

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