The Adventures of Tom Sawyer | Summary

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer | Summary

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer | Summary

Author:Mark Twain

Subject: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, novel by Mark Twain, published in 1876, that centres on a smart mischievous young boy living in a town along the Mississippi River.The satiric work is considered a classic of American literature, and it spawned the hugely successful sequel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884).

Characters: Tom Sawyer,Huckleberry Finn,Becky Thatcher,Polly Teyze,Joe Harper,Sid Sawyer


An orphan, Tom Sawyer lives with his Aunt Polly and half brother, Sid, in St. Petersburg, Missouri, on the Mississippi River; the fictional town is based on Hannibal, Missouri, where Twain grew up. The early chapters highlight Tom’s propensity for trouble.First he angers his aunt by eating jam, then he gets in a fight with another boy.As punishment for his various misdeeds, Aunt Polly orders him to whitewash the fence.However, Tom manages to convince other children that whitewashing is fun, and they end up giving him various items for a turn at the fence. Later in the book Tom goes to the cemetery with Huckleberry Finn, a vagabond whose father is a heavy drinker. The duo come across three grave robbers, including Injun Joe and Dr. Robinson.The two men get into a fight, and Injun Joe murders the doctor.Although Tom and Huckleberry promise never to tell anyone what they saw, Tom ultimately testifies against Injun Joe, who escapes.

At one point, Tom, Huckleberry, and a third boy decide to run away from home and become pirates. While on an island in the Mississippi River, they discover that people think they have died. The three dramatically reappear during their funeral services.Tom and Huckleberry then decide to look for buried treasure in an abandoned house.The boys are forced to hide when Injun Joe and a partner arrive to bury their own treasure there.However, the two men then stumble upon a gold cache in the house and decide to hide it elsewhere.One night Huck follows them, hoping to find the gold. When he overhears their plan to attack the Widow Douglas, Huck gets help, and the crime is prevented.

Tom later goes on a picnic with his classmates, including Becky, a girl to whom he had previously been “engaged.” While exploring a cave, they become lost.As Becky’s health suffers, Tom frantically tries to find a way out.At one point, he spies Injun Joe in the cave’s tunnels.Tom ultimately leads Becky to safety.The cave is subsequently closed with an iron door, and, when Tom learns about this development, he fears that Injun Joe might be trapped.A group returns to the cave, where they discover Injun Joe dead by the door.Tom later realizes that the gold is likely to still be in the cave, and he and Huckleberry return and discover it.Huckleberry is subsequently taken in by the Widow Douglas.The boy chafes under her rules and decides to return to his vagabond lifestyle. However, Tom convinces him to stay.

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