Tom Sawyer introduced one of the most famous characters in all of literature. He is introduced in this book and reappears in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Mark Twain lived from 1835 to 1910. Primarily a humorous writer, Twain also is known for his descriptions of American life in the 19th century. One of the cool things about this book is that the characters spoke the way regular people did – the slang of that time period. This element of Twain’s writing made the characters, especially Tom, very approachable.
Tom Sawyer: The main character of the story. He’s a regular kid – he gets into trouble like many kids. He always wants to play and hates school. He is a leader, a manipulator, and he gets kids to do whatever he wants. Tom lives with his Aunt Polly cause his mom is dead. They live in Missouri.
Huckleberry Finn: Tom’s best friend, he basically follows Tom around and does whatever he wants.
Becky Thatcher: Becky is a girl who moves into Tom’s town. Becky is very polite and well mannered in front if adults, but with kids, she can be a naughty vixen. Tom is in love with Becky. Becky’s dad is a respected judge in the town, Judge Thatcher.
Aunt Polly: Aunt Polly is Tom’s aunt. She is nice and takes care of Tom. Tom always outsmarts her and lies to her.
Sid: Sid is Tom’s half-brother. He is a goody two-shoes and a tattletale.
Mary: Tom’s cousin, she is a sweet girl who is nice to Tom.
Injun Joe: Injun Joe is a jerk. His whole life revolves around revenge. He dies in the end.
Muff Potter: Injun Joe’s partner at the graveyard robbery. Muff is a dirty drunk, but not that bad a guy. He is pretty nice to Tom and Huck.
Mrs. Douglas: A window who is very nice to Tom and Huck. In the end she takes in Huck as her own child.
Dr. Robinson: A young doctor who tries to rob a grave in the beginning. He asks Injun Joe to help him out. He is killed by Injun Joe.
Alfred Temple: A rich snotty kid who has the hots for Becky.
Joe Harper: A friend of Tom’s who joins Tom and Huck on their pirate adventure.
Tom Sawyer is a kid who is up to no good. One day, he eats jam when he’s not supposed to, skips school, and gets in a fight. Sid spills the beans about Tom’s behavior and his Aunt gets pissed. As punishment, she makes him paint her fence white. But because Tom is such a scammer, he tricks his friends into painting the fence by pretending that it is a fun thing to do. Then he goes and plays with his friends.
He sees this hot babe named Becky Thatcher. Tom really likes her. Then he goes home and Aunt Polly yells at him because she thinks he broke the sugar bowl. It was Sid who broke the bowl. Tom sees his pal Huckleberry Finn. They plan to get together at midnight for something. Tom goes to school and sees Becky again. He asks her to marry him (not really, but like kids do, ya know?). She says no because she finds out that he was once married to some other girl in the class. Tom is mad that he got shafted, so he skips school and plays with a friend.
When Tom and Huck meet at midnight, they go to the graveyard. At the graveyard, they see some dudes robbing a grave. The guys are Muff Potter, Injun Joe, and Dr Robinson. Potter and Injun Joe were hired by Robinson to rob some grave, but they refuse to do it unless he pays them more money. Robinson takes a swing at Potter, and then Injun Joe kills Robinson. Injun Joe convinces Potter that he killed Robinson. Tom and Huck see this whole thing, but don’t tell anyone because they’re scared to death of Injun Joe. Potter is arrested for the murder, and the boys take food and cigarettes to him in jail.
The next day at school Becky dumps on Tom even more. Tom is pissed, so he wants to run away. Tom, Huck, and their friend Joe decide to become pirates and sail down the river. So they steal a raft and leave. They go to Jackson’s Island (near their town). All the people in Tom’s town think the boys are dead, so they have a funeral. The boys walk in during the middle of it and shock the hell out of everyone.
Back at school, Tom takes the heat for something bad that Becky did, and she starts to like him. Then summer comes. Becky leaves town. Tom gets sick with the measles. Then Tom still feels bad about the graveyard incident and he tells the truth at Muff Potter’s trial. Injun Joe escapes. Tom is scared to death because he thinks Injun Joe is gonna kill him.
Tom and Huck go out because they want to find some treasure. They go to some abandoned house and see Injun Joe and some dude with a box of gold coins. Injun Joe hides the gold, and Tom and Huck look for it. Then Tom goes on a picnic with Becky. While Tom is at the picnic, Huck watches Injun Joe to see where he goes. Huck finds out that Injun Joe plans on beating the crap out of some old lady. Huck gets help but Injun Joe runs away.
Meanwhile, back at the picnic, Tom and Becky get lost in some cave. While they are in the cave, they see Injun Joe. Tom finds a way out. Then Becky’s dad seals the cave shut with a huge door. Joe was trapped inside, so he dies.
Tom and Huck go back to the cave and get that box of gold. They plan on hiding the gold but they are caught and have to admit to everyone that they have it. But the boys get to keep it and they become rich.
CHAPTER BY CHAPTER
Aunt Polly looks for Tom. She calls him but he doesn’t answer.
She catches him hiding in the closet. She finds that he has eaten jam (he’s not allowed to).
She is about to spank him but he escapes. Then he skips school and plays.
At dinner Aunt Polly asks Tom where he was in the afternoon. Sid snitches on Tom and Aunt Polly finds out he ditched school.
Tom meets some new kid. The kid is dressed like a rich little punk, so Tom fights him and kicks his butt.
When the weekend comes, Aunt Polly gives Tom his punishment for all the bad crap he’s done. He has to paint a white fence (this is called whitewashing).
Tom pretends to really enjoy whitewashing the fence. Some other kids come around and are tricked into thinking it is fun. So they do his work for him. In exchange for the "pleasure" of whitewashing the fence, they give Tom something of theirs.
Aunt Polly sees that Tom did a bang up job on the fence and she rewards him (even though Tom didn’t do anything).
Tom beats up Sid then hangs around with his friend and they play "war."
Then Tom sees a new girl who is a real hottie. (Becky Thatcher) We do not know her name yet in the book. He hangs around outside her house all day trying to look like a cool dude. She gives him a flower.
At dinner, Sid breaks the sugar bowl. Tom is happy because he think Tom’s gonna get an ass-whipping. But Polly thinks Tom did it and yells at him.
Tom goes back to Becky’s house. He waits for her but Becky’s maid chases Tom away.
This chapter is all about church.
On Sunday Tom gets ready for Bible school. He tries to remember some verses because kids can earn tickets to get free Bibles if they can recite a lot of verses.
At church the priest introduces the new people in town, Judge Thatcher and his hot daughter, Becky, girl Tom likes.
Tom trades all of the crap he got from the boys from the fence thing for tickets to get a Bible. He gets a free bible.
The priest gives a moving speech but Tom thinks it sucks.
Tom screws around, and doesn’t pay attention. He plays with a bug during church.
On Monday, Tom goes to school. He meets Huck Finn.
Tom isn’t allowed to play with Huck cause Huck is a bad influence.
Huck has a dead cat. He wants to take it to the graveyard at night. He thinks that a dead cat will cure his warts.
The teacher is pissed because he was talking to Huck Finn, so he is forced to sit with the girls and Becky Thatcher (which is cool cause she’s a babe).
Tom draws some pictures for Becky and writes some love letters.
Tom screws around during class, gets caught, and is punished.
Tom eats lunch with Becky. He ask her to marry him (the innocent kid version of marriage).
She almost does but he messes up and says another girl’s name. So she knows he’s been "married" before and she refuses.
Tom is mad that Becky dissed him, so he leaves school.
Tom is still mad that Becky blew him off, so he goes to the forest to think. He wishes he could die and then come back.
Then Ton decides he wants to be a pirate.
Then he plays with his friend, Joe Harper.
Later that night Huck and Tom meet like they had planned and go to the graveyard.
They are at the graveyard and hide because they see other people there. They see three guys robbing a grave.
We learn that Dr. Robinson is having a body dug up so he can run experiments and stuff on it.
Huck and Tom see that Muff Potter and Injun Joe are there also. After they get the dead body, they ask the doc for more money. Then a fight breaks out, and the doc is killed by Injun Joe.
Injun Joe frames Muff Potter. Potter thinks he did it because he’s a drunk and he can’t remember what he did, so Injun Joe tells him that he is the killer.
The boys get out of the graveyard and talk about what they saw. They decide not to say anything because they are scared to death of Injun Joe because he’s such a scary jerk.
The next morning Aunt Polly is pissed because Tom came home very late.
Then at school he is punished for skipping school a few days back. Then Becky gives him back some gift he gave her. This day sucks for Tom.
The town discovers that Dr. Robinson has been killed. Muff Potter is blamed. Injun Joe sells him out and lies to get Muff Potter arrested.
Tom feels guilty about not telling anyone the truth about the murder. He starts to have nightmares.
He feels bad that he isn’t helping out Potter (who is innocent) so he takes Potter goodies in jail.
Becky is sick and misses school. Tom is kinda sad that Becky isn’t there.
Tom takes some of Aunt Polly’s painkiller medication and gives it to the cat. This hurts the cat.
He goes to school and Becky is back. He is happy but Becky rejects him again.
Tom feels sorry for himself because his life sucks. His life sucks because his home life isn’t fun and Becky doesn’t like him.
He leaves school and sees his pal, Joe Harper. They decide to become pirates.
They get Huck Finn to join them. Then they decide to go to Jackson Island in the middle of the night.
They steal a raft and some food and take off down the river. They arrive at Jackson Island.
They talk and have fun being pirates.
The boys screw around on the island and swim and stuff.
They see a boat that’s looking for someone who drowned. Then they realize the boat is looking for them.
Joe and Tom feel kinda bad because their families must be worried about them.
Tom goes back to his town and sneaks into his house. He overhears a conversation between Aunt Polly and Joe Harper’s mom. They are talking about sad they are because the kids are gone.
Tom leaves a note for Aunt Polly, but decides not to leave it. He then goes back to Jackson Island.
The boys still screw around and have fun.
They are homesick. Joe wants to go home but Tom says no.
Huck gives Tom and Joe cigarettes. They smoke them and get sick.
But they smoke again and like it. They think it is cool.
Joe and Huck want to leave, but Tom keeps them there by promising to tell them his big plan.
The town has the funerals for the boys. Everyone is really sad.
Tom’s big plan is that he wants to walk into the church during his funeral.
Right in the middle of the sermon the boys walk up the aisle.
Everyone is happy to see that they are alive. Tom is pretty proud of his sick joke.
The boys move back to their town.
Aunt Polly doesn’t understand why Tom would play a sick joke like that.
Tom goes to school and plays hard to get with Becky. So she sits with some other boy, Alfred. Tom gets jealous. Becky then dumps Alfred. Alfred gets mad and puts ink on Tom’s book.
Becky is mad at Tom so she gets him in trouble for the ink thing.
Tom goes home and Aunt Polly is mad at him because she found out he sneaked back into the house during his pirate adventure.
He shows her the note that he wrote for her. She is happy.
Tom goes back to school later that day. He apologizes to Becky but she’s being bitchy.
They start insulting each other. Tom catches her looking at the teacher’s book. She accidentally rips a page. She is scared that she will get punished
Tom gets whipped by the teacher for spilling the ink (which he didn’t do).
Then the teacher finds the ripped page. Tom admits to that, too, and saves Becky. He gets whipped again and Becky is impressed with him.
The school years comes to a finish.
The kids have one big final exam night. It is a night where they make presentations for the public
Tom makes his presentation and he fails miserably because he doesn’t know what he is talking about and has stage fright.
The rest of the kids look like smart kids.
During the summer, Tom starts a diary and sees some minstrel show.
He starts drinking and smoking, then quits.
Becky goes on vacation with her folks.
Tom gets the measles and is sick for a while.
This chapter picks up that whole Dr. Robinson/Injun Joe/Muff Potter thing.
Muff Potter’s trial starts. Huck and Tom feel really bad because they know the truth.
Tom finally confesses in court to what he saw.
When Tom tells everyone what really happened, Injun Joe escapes.
Tom is now really scared of Injun Joe because he got him in trouble. He is afraid that the guy is gonna kill him and Huck.
A detective from St. Louis comes to handle this big case.
This chapter just describes what is going on in the town, now that Injun Joe is on the lam.
Huck and Tom decide they want to hunt for lost treasure.
They look for treasure near a tree and talk about how they would spend it.
Tom says he would get married with it.
They return to treasure hunting. Then they remember it is Friday and that Friday is unlucky (they are very superstitious).
So they play other games for a while then decide to keep looking. They go some house that they think is haunted.
When they are in the house the see Injun Joe and hide. They listen to his plan and see that he has a big box of gold with him.
They hear that Injun Joe is planning revenge on someone. Then they hear Injun Joe say he is going to put the pleasure in some place (he described it by a code name).
Injun Joe finally leaves the house.
This is a short chapter.
The boys are pissed that they couldn’t get their hands on that big box of gold.
Tom wants to find the money. Tom kinda figures out Injun Joe’s codename hiding place.
They go to this place (it’s a bar) and wait for Injun Joe.
Tom gets to enter the bar. They go back to the bar for a couple nights, to see Injun Joe.
One of the nights, Tom walks in on Injun Joe in the bar. Good thing Injun Joe was drunk and passed out.
They ran away.
They are too scared to go back to the bar. So they decide to just follow Injun Joe one day.
Becky returns to town.
Becky and Tom hook up again. Becky invites Tom to her picnic (her rich folks rent a steamboat).
Tom goes to the picnic, but leaves early for ice cream and hanging out. He hangs with Becky and they go to some cave. Tom also wants to go for some ice cream at Mrs. Douglas’ house.
Meanwhile Huck is waiting at the bar for Injun Joe. Injun Joe leaves and Huck follows him.
Injun Joe and his crime buddy stop at Mrs. Douglas’ (widow) house. Huck sees that Injun Joe plans on doing something bad to her. He wants to beat her up and scar her face.
Huck runs to go get help. He gets some guys to go to the widow’s house.
The next day Huck finds out that the help he got scared Injun Joe away.
The sheriff and a group search for Injun Joe.
Aunt Polly learns that Tom might be lost in the cave with Becky. so a bunch of people go look for them.
Huck gets sick. Mrs. Douglas takes care of him.
Tom and Becky are in the cave exploring. They find all these secret passageways.
They run into some bats and then become really lost.
Then Tom sees Injun Joe in the cave.
They keep searching for a way out of the cave.
A day passes and then finally at night the town rings the bells signifying good news. The kids have been found.
They had a huge parade for the kids and everyone was glad they were okay.
Then Tom tells people how he got out. They got out of the cave then hitched a ride with some passing boat.
Huck is still sick. Tom is not allowed to visit him.
Tom learns that Becky’s father sealed up the cave so nobody else could go in and get lost.
Tom realizes that Injun Joe was still in the cave.
A lot of people go to the cave to see if Injun Joe is there. They find him dead inside.
Tom is happy because now Joe can’t kill him.
Injun Joe has a funeral and people who like him and people who hate him go.
Tom finally talks to Huck and they talk about the treasure still being in the cave.
Tom goes back to the cave and gets in the same way he escaped. They find the box of gold coins.
They decide to hide the money in Mrs. Douglas’ woodshed. But some guy catches them hauling something in a wagon. He tells them that Mrs. Douglas has invited them to her house.
When they get to her house all the bigshot people in the town are there.
Finally Huck is cool with all the rich folk.
Mrs. Douglas gives the boys clean clothes. They change
The party is to thank the people who saved Mrs. Douglas’ life from Injun Joe.
Then people congratulate Huck for warning Mrs. Douglas and getting help.
Then Tom shows everyone the box of gold -- $12,000.
The boys are now rich.
They are bigshots in the town.
Everyone likes Tom now. Huck leaves Mrs. Douglas’ house because he hates it. He goes back to his life of being a kid who is up to no good.
The boys just wanna be robbers. Tom convinces Huck to go back to Mrs. Douglas’s house.
THINGS TO MAKE YOU LOOK SMART
This book reminds us of how great boyhood mischief is and how childhood events shape our minds into learning what is right and what is wrong.
This novel highlights the difference between childhood wrongs and adult wrongs -- like Injun Joe’s plot for revenge or Aunt Polly’s arrogance.
Tom is an unlikely hero. He’s a bad kid who does the right thing in the end and saves the day.
Mark Twain had his characters speak in the vernacular – common language. This is cool.