On Saturday morning, Tom is forced to whitewash the fence outside the house as punishment for his behavior the night before. The day is beautiful, making the chore seem even more dreadful; in fact, Tom would rather do Jim's - the black servant's - chores than whitewash the fence.
Tom begins the job and imagines how all the "free boys" who come skipping by will make fun of him for having to do work on a Saturday. In perhaps one of the most famous scenes of the novel, Tom tricks the neighborhood boys into completing his entire chore. Tom pretends to love whitewashing, putting fake enthusiasm into his work. "Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?" Tom asks. Soon, all the neighborhood boys beg Tom for the chance to whitewash in exchange for small trinkets. In conclusion, Tom contends "that Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do."