The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: A Summary

A summary of Mark Twain’s ‘Adventures of Tom Sawyer’

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain is the story of a young imaginative and adventurous boy as the name of the novel suggests. Based mainly on the excitements of boyhood, the novel  deals with Tom and his friends’ adventures and misadventures. Tom, the protagonist lives with his aunt Polly and half-brother Sid in St. Petersburg, Missourie.

His aunt punishes him for being absent from his school and makes him paint the fence. He is disappointed that his day is wasted. Soon his friends appear and Tom pretends to be immersed in his work. His friends persuade Tom to let them do his work in exchange for the little gifts they have to offer to him. Later, Tom trades these gifts to purchase tickets that he uses to win a Bible as a prize. Tom also falls in love with Becky Thatcher and persuades her to get engaged to him. However, the romance is soon over when Becky discovers that Tom was already engaged to Amy Lawrence.

Abandoned by Becky, Tom has no other option but to be with his friend Huck Finn, who is the son of a town drunkard. They go to the graveyard in order to try a cure for warts. A new adventure awaits them there and the two become witnesses to the murder of the young Dr. Robinson by Injun Joe, a ‘half breed’, Native American. Too terrified, the two run away and swear not to tell anyone about the murder. Injun Joe lays the blame of the murder on one of his companions ‘Muff Potter’, who is a hapless drunk and gets him arrested wrongfully. Tom starts feeling pity for Potter and is overcome by guilt for hiding the secret.

Tom’s young mind cannot help imagining new things and soon he, Joe Harper and Huck Finn, escape to an island to become pirates. They are frolicking around and enjoying their new-found freedom when they sense that the people are looking down the river for their dead bodies. They hide but Tom cannot help himself from sneaking back home one night to find out about his family. His loved ones are struck by grief and Tom decides to reappear at his funeral and surprise everyone. He asks Huck and Joe to do the same, who approve.

The three are back and their families rejoice at their return and they become the envy of their friends. Tom again gets Becky in his favour at school by accepting the blame for a book that she had ripped.  After that Tom testifies against Injun Joe and Muff Potter is acquitted.  However, Injun Joe somehow manages to flee the courtroom through a small window.During the summers, Huck and Tom go to a haunted house to unearth buried treasure. There they see Injun Joe with one of his partners. Joe is there to bury some gold he has found and he discards the plan to bury his treasure once he discovers Tom and Huck’s tools lying there.

Huck starts following Injun Joe every night in an attempt to lay hands on the gold. Tom and Becky with their classmates go to the McDougal’s cave to have a picnic. Huck finds Injun Joe and his partner escaping with the box that same night. He follows them and overhears their ‘plan to attack Widow Douglas. He is able to prevent the violence by running to fetch help. Tom and Becky accidentally get lost in the caves and their absence is not discovered until the next morning. People of the town start looking for them but cannot find them. Their food and candles are over and Tom and Becky start growing weaker. They are even horrified as Tom discovers Injun Joe inside the cave.

The people looking for them outside the cave have given up when Tom discovers a way out.  People of the town celebrate and Becky’s father Judge Thatcher locks the cave which starves Injun Joe, locked inside to death. Just a week later, Tom and Huck go the cave and find out the box of Gold which is invested in their future. Widow Douglas adopts Huck but he is unable to fit into a civilized life and escapes. Tom persuades him to return to the widow by promising him a place in his robber band. Well, Huck is reluctant but he agrees.